I had nearly every excuse NOT to run today. My hair is clean. My legs are dead from yesterday’s workout. It’s too windy out. I haven’t eaten enough. On top of that, I’m tired from a full week of work and taking care of an infant. You know what “excuse” or thought has NEVER crossed my mind when trying to talk myself out of exercising? Fear of losing my life due to the color of my skin.
Can you imagine? Having to think about what could happen to you when you step outside your front door, to run in your own neighborhood, because of your skin tone? Unfortunately, this is reality for so many.
Though I will NEVER know what it feels like to have those very real and very sad concerns for myself, I do know what it feels like to be married to someone who has to take those things into consideration.
I know what it feels like to watch the man I love feel uncomfortable because he’s one of a handful of other black people in a huge auditorium at church. I know what it feels like to watch him get flustered when someone glares at him from across a restaurant in disapproval of him and our interracial marriage.
I know that we will NEVER stop in a small town under any circumstance while traveling because of what could happen to him. I know what it feels like to drag him to a fancy New Year party where the only other black person there was “the help.”
I know what it feels like to be told I don’t look like someone who likes black men. I know what it feels like to be eating out with my husband on a date night, only to go home disappointed because the waiter refused to serve my husband but continued to make sure my drink was filled.
I know there are certain cities and communities that are completely off-limits for us to buy a house in because he’s black. I know he was raised to always look put-together (nice haircut, clean-shaven, nice clothes) so he wouldn’t draw any unwanted attention to himself.
I know what it feels like to watch my husband followed by store security personnel or continually asked if he needs help because they think he could be stealing. I know that we purposely named our daughter, who is also black, with an unassuming name that didn’t “sound black” so she wouldn’t be judged before she was ever seen.
I know what it feels like to have the door slammed in my face by an older white couple at a nice restaurant once they saw Mike coming in behind me. I know what it feels like to listen to him reminisce about high school and how he was embarrassed to be the only black kid in his AP classes. What it feels like to watch him struggle with memories of being made fun of for playing baseball, a “white man’s” sport. Driving four hours down to Texas at night and literally getting pulled over in his parents’ driveway because he fit the description of someone vandalizing cars.
Do you know how hard that is for me to watch? Now, imagine that is you.
YOU are the one this hatred is aimed at. YOU are the one who shouldn’t stop in a small town to get gas because of your race. YOU are the one who has to worry about looking nice to go to the grocery store so people don’t think you’re up to no good. Can you imagine?
Though I will never know what it truly feels like to be the target of such hatred, I know what it feels like to love someone who is. My heart breaks for our brothers and sisters who have to deal with this every single day of their lives. It has to stop and I will no longer be silent about how this makes me feel.