I would like to begin by stating that I love all types of people because each and every single individual teaches me something new. At the same time, I am deeply saddened at the serious psychological toll our current economic state worldwide has taken on people of all racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds. I have too many stories to count of the unnecessary judgments being passed by ignorant (yes, this is the right word) bystanders. Please allow me to share two examples from my own life. Please note names are withheld to protect my friend’s and relative’s interests.
First, the most vivid event just happened last week. I introduced a new friend of mine to Reggae Gold night in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. We had a great evening and also completed a little bit of business networking. We chose to save our funds and utilize the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) within less than three minutes of being on the train and choosing a seat an older, African-American gentleman seated directly behind us gets up and says, “you two disgust me.” Now, please note we have just boarded the train and have not said a single word to this stranger. My response to the older gentlemen was, “What do you mean? Well, then, you disgust me too.” My friend who was with me was actually much angrier at the disrespect directed towards himself (my friend) and me (a woman) and immediately took off his coat to address the man in a more forceful manner. Needless to say, it was an unfortunate and unnecessary event. We were all able to de-escalate the situation by notifying the CTA personnel and the older gentlemen was addressed by getting off the train and hopefully they just put him in another train car.
Second, I attended my higher education institution in the great state of North Carolina. Coincidentally, my own relative has been working there in the summers mostly for a couple of years now. One day when I asked him how he was enjoying it he said to me, “Meka, I hate it. Some people called me a porch monkey just the other day.” Now when telling some new friends and business associates more about myself and my family, this story came up. A friend listening to my story asked, “what is a ‘porch monkey’?” My explanation was that a “porch monkey” is an up-front and a very real racist reference to African-Americans having a history of relaxing on their ‘porches’ and the ‘monkey’ part being a racial slur used during the days of slavery and apparently also in modern-day America to describe black people. However, the most disturbing thing is that my own mind was conditioned to carry this perspective: “Well, at least they said it to your face. There are some people (many in the northern part of our country) who will say it in their head rather than your face.” My own response saddens me but at the same time I feel strongly about the point I was trying to make.
The bigger picture for me is that we in American society and also on a Global level are seriously craving real and genuine responses from people. There is too much marketing and manipulation going on in our Global society. So many people I personally know are being categorized for sales purposes via tools like CRM (client relationship management) or Android software. These ‘tools’ are the Rolodex of the modern age. My rhetorical question is: why do we refuse to allow things to happen naturally?” I truly believe our society has lost sight of how to treat people as imperfect, human beings which should be loved and accepted just as they are. Change is ever-constant and we should stop forcing it to happen way too fast especially in this age which is ruled by the information superhighway commonly referred to as the internet and the giant technology and internet companies like Google, Apple, Motorola, etcetera.