A majority of Americans support marriage equality. The same majority of Americans have an unfavorable bias towards African-Americans. A majority of whites think George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in self defense while a majority of blacks think George Zimmerman was the aggressor. A majority of whites are seated in the jury, and they will make their outcomes known. A majority of Americans do not support Affirmative Action. That same majority feels that Affirmative Action has gone on to out-serve its purpose. Look around, there are plenty of successful blacks running the show. A majority in this Country view the president in the negative, while the same majority elected and re-elected him against his white male opponents. A majority of Americans have a favorable view of interracial marriage while only 15% of adults/teens date outside their race. Thirty percent of the people in this Country identify themselves as a member of the political tea party, and they are considered to be on the fringe. So, anyone that tells you that race relations is easy is being very disingenuous. Life is not like a box of chocolates.
In 1952, Ralph Ellison wrote the book “Invisible Man” It was a commentary on the common black man and the social issues we had to face. It was a time of segregation, and blacks had to conform. Everywhere the black man went they were reminded of how unequal they were. Signs like “No Coloreds allowed”, “Whites Only”, “No Negroes” were the norm and the majority of Americans supported it. The black man was invisible, and for many years I believed that. In 2013, I am aware of just how invisible I am. I walk down the street, and many are too afraid to make eye contact with me. I make posts on social media and get ignored for the more popular whitey. I go on a job interview for a Fortune 500 company and can’t get the interviewer to make eye contact with me. It seems like they are just going through the motions.
I decide that my car is on it’s final leg. Time for me to buy a new one so I go to a car dealer. I’m even invisible at a car dealership. I see a group of dealers in the front of the lot dispersing when I show up. Do I not make enough money to buy a car? Do I not look like I have a good credit rating? However, there are plenty of car dealers in the inner city that will love to sell me a car at twenty percent interest. There are plenty of bankers in the inner city that will loan me money against my paycheck for twenty-five percent interest, and there is a liquor store at the end of every block.
I used to think for so long that I was invisible, but there are times that I’m very visible. Growing up in an all white neighborhood taught me not to get close to a nice car for fear that I would be reported in attempting to steal it. I couldn’t take a short cut through my neighbors backyard like every other kid in the neighborhood for fear that someone might report me for breaking in. These are things a black person gets used to. We also find ourselves getting used to the burdens of being black. The burden of having to prove that your smart, articulate, professional, hard-working, punctual and the list goes on and on. Rest assured, you make just one mistake and you become the stereotype. Insert cue here.
With all that I know. With all that I have witnessed, I did get that job with the Fortune 500 company. It was very short lived though. Living in an environment where you’re constantly told that you were only hired because you were “diverse” does not make for stability. How can you contribute when you feel like you were a token? How can you contribute when your coworkers can’t make eye contact with you while constantly backstabbing you? How is a person supposed to deal with these events? If you’re white; you’re alright.
When people bring up abortion, the poor, food stamps what is the first word that pops into your head? If you said black, then you are right. Americans are conditioned to think that. Our prisons are filled with blacks. The inner city is full of young buck gangstas. Our education system is failing them, and what choices do they have in our society? College? How is a child that grows up in poverty supposed to be able to afford college? Hope you can play a sport, young buck.
Race in America is a very complex issue, but what I don’t understand is how a subset of America that makes up roughly thirteen percent–somehow supposed to be responsible for all the problems in America. I would argue that if you look around you will see all the invisible, hard-working, smart, talented and even funny black men in America. But it doesn’t matter what I say. I’m just an invisible man, and the only people reading this are the small minority that supports Affirmative Action and interracial dating.