I have to admit that some days I don’t want to be black.
Seriously - but you can drop those eyebrows.
Don’t get me wrong; I love being black.
But some days I hate to have to deal with the stereotype of what being black is - or at least what others deemed being black means.
There are just moments when I wish the color of my skin would fade to invisible so I don’t have to be targeted by cruelty and people’s misperceptions of who and what I am.
It seems my entire life I have been making adjustments to what I do, where I walk and what I say as an apology for the color of my skin.
I started thinking about this column some time ago after an encounter in Bridgeport with a bank teller where I bank and his supervisor.
I won’t go into detail but it was clear when I attempted to get a cash advance on my credit card, I was, at first, treated with suspicion and stereotyped as a hustler trying to pull a fast one for quick cash.
That is something I deal with all the time - and it doesn’t matter what town, city or state I am in.
I encountered a similar experience in a downtown New Haven store where I was stopped at the door and ordered to check my bag before shopping. I refused and after a call to the store’s headquarters, I have not had that problem again.
Experiences like these, though, eat away at me. Why do I always feel like I have to prove what I am not?
I know I am not the only black man who feels this way.
And I bet whites, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims and others feel trapped by the same contagion - the need to prove the outside before the inside.
I am sure whites always feel the monkey of slavery on their backs and feel they are judged by that piece of history first when dealing with black people. I am sure some Hispanics feel under the gun to prove they’re citizens and have not snuck across the border.
And how about the Jews? Don’t they have to defend against the stereotype of being miserly ?
What about the Muslims? Aren’t they here to harm us, rather than seeking a better life?
And let’s not forget about the women. Aren’t they all just walking pin-up dolls provoking backlash or violence by the way they dress?
We just can’t seem to get away from these sterotypes of one another.
As a white guy once said to me in North Carolina when we were discussing race in America: “we white guys get blamed for everything.”
Maybe that is why white guys and I always seem to engage in “no, after you,” when reaching a door. I am always left with the impression he wanted me to go first so I wouldn’t feel subservient; I don’t, I am just being polite.
But that’s what happens when we allow sterotypes to blind us and dangle caricatures of race to define people.
Across America, people, their race and habits as well as their culture are lined up like sitting ducks. People are dying and families are being torn apart as they are typecasted and targets of hate and sterotypes.
Being black is all I know. I don’t have a clue what it is like to be white, Hispanic, Asian or any other race.
But in this era of “identifying,” maybe we should all try identifying as someone of another race. Maybe that will help us get rid of some of these sterotypes that hound us every day.
After all, this is a nation forged with the sweat of all races and continues to be fortified by all races.
But misperceptions about who and what a person is prevents or weakens friendships, loosens bonds, and perhaps, most importantly, puts in danger the cohesiveness of our existence.
So, yeah ...
Race? Some days I don’t want to be black - but it has nothing whatsoever to do with not being in love with being black
James Walker is the Register’s senior editor.