America…Where Do I Stand?

July 17, 2013  |  

Source: Shutterstock

By Claudine Moore

Before I begin, I want it to be known that I do not have the answer to this question, but it is one that has bubbled to the surface of my consciousness post the shocking ‘not guilty’ verdict in the Trayvon Martin trial. I am deeply confused, depressed and hurt by this verdict. Hurt for the pain that Trayvon Martin’s parents now have to endure knowing their son’s killer is a free man, and also hurt for black people living in America. What message does this give us? Where do we stand?

I am a Black British female who was born and raised in the UK, and has lived in the US for over a decade. My parents are from the Caribbean so my upbringing was a vibrant mix of middle England in the predominantly white town where I grew up, and Caribbean and African heritage at home. I am blessed to have highly educated parents who are also very socially conscious and well versed in many topics, including global black history. My parents taught me and my two sisters that our history began in Africa, and not on the plantations in the Caribbean. We were black, therefore African, and while slavery was part of our history it was by no means the beginning of it. My parents were very proud of the different shades of global black culture, and at home we learned about African American history, Caribbean history and African history. We were taught to embrace it all alongside our ‘Britishness’ and we did, consolidating and comfortably embracing our Blackness and Britishness in one palatable drop.

I moved to America for the reason all immigrants move: to seek opportunity. There are plenty of opportunities in my home country, the UK is a fantastic place that many people from around the world also dream of migrating. Nevertheless, there is something special about America, especially in the eyes of Black people across the world. Here in America, Black people have made more progress when compared to black people in other western countries, including where I am from in the UK.

I grew up on a diet of overwhelmingly positive images of black America, The Cosby Show, Different World, Ebony magazine. I would visit the US in the 80’s and 90’s and see black news anchors, TV personalities, and politicians in abundance. Billboards and advertising had images of people who looked like me, and America had Historically Black Colleges and Universities that had a long and illustrious history of academic excellence. All of these things were in short supply in the UK growing up. America, it seemed to me, was a progressive place for black people and, to this day is, a place where many black people around the world dream to live.

Now, I wasn’t totally naïve to think America was the land of milk and honey for Black people. As I mentioned, I was taught American history so I knew about the civil rights movement and the many injustices that African American’s have had to bare. Nevertheless, America was moving forwards, Black were progressing and transitioning, and our place in America was improving – so I thought.

On the first morning of my new job in New York, I saw a demonstration of thousands of black people walking down 5th Avenue in Manhattan, holding their hands in the air with signs that read, “Amadou Diallo: No justice No Peace.” I found out that months prior, an unarmed African immigrant had been shot 41 times by four police officers. I was stunned when all four police officers were found not guilty. Alongside all the amazing things that happened when I moved here, this incident and subsequent outcry were also a defining part of my welcome to the city.

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  • FromUR2UB

    Very nice article.

  • Fair and Balanced

    You are correct there is no safe place for us and we will always be seen
    as the bottom of the race pool but it is our own fault that we are seen
    that way as we have consistently failed to harness our power and many
    of us would rather destroy each other and wait for a handout instead of
    pulling it together and doing it ourselves even worse we go around
    blaming every Caucasian because many of us see it as their fault as to
    why we are so far behind the eight ball.

    Reality check if those
    of us choose to blame someone blame themselves. You ever notice how
    every race can come to America and thrive but we who have come through
    hell cannot? We know the rules, we know there is inequality but we also
    know how to get around it so why haven’t we? I am so tired of hearing
    people say I wanted to go to college but could not afford it are you
    kidding me? Now more than ever if that is what you want to do then do it
    yes you may have to go through the government and yes you will be in
    debt and yes you do have to pay it back but I ask what is a better
    investment than the one you will make in yourself?

    We have many
    trifling Black men and women running around getting high, pumping out
    babies and living off the government dime anyway so why not get an
    education off of that same dime? Furthermore, many of these poor
    unfortunate children that enter this world because of these unions are
    not provided with any attempt at being raised with values because their
    parents don’t know what real values are and when someone does reach out
    and try to help them they are often disrespected for trying to help.

    people are strong and the Black woman is the cornerstone of that
    strength, she has endured disrespect by everyone including the Black man
    for that strength but still she survives so I know we can achieve
    anything we want be it through college, trade school or learning how to
    achieve by getting involved in something worthwhile not street drugs or
    anything like that. I know many Black men who could have been doctors,
    attorneys and more but made the choice to throw their lives away I know
    many Black women that have done the same thing and it was their choice
    to do so. We as women need to stop casting our pearls to swine find the
    Back woman that is working towards her dream or has achieve it and talk
    to her she may be willing to help you obtain the knowledge you need to
    move up if she is not shame on her, keep moving until you find her.

    for the many Black men young or old start helping to raise your
    children you don’t have to be with the mother to do this just be a man
    and find a job if she is trying to make it work then you too need to
    make it work help support and raise your child. As I stated above we are
    a strong people, we know all the games, we are well aware of the
    inequality in this country but we know more than anyone how to get
    around it. We need to stop cutting our nose off to spite our face the
    election of President Obama and the reelection of President Obama has
    done nothing to help us if anyone thought it would then they are sadly

    Do you honestly believe that this country would have
    elected him the first time if they thought for one second he was going
    to give Black people an equal playing field and then many of us went
    back and elected this man again after seeing what he did the first time
    you see we cut off our nose to spite our face. Its time to start
    thinking differently and stop putting Blacks down who think outside of
    the box many of us need to get out of that plantation crab in a bucket
    mentality. I am not saying it is going to be easy especially if that is
    all we know but that cannot be an excuse to move forward. We must
    harness our power or we will remain forever at the bottom of the heap
    honestly think about it we were once slaves did you think they were ever
    going to give us a fair chance?

    • rainydaze80

      Just to add to your first point about why we find more difficulty in succeeding compared to other races: problem number one is unity. You touched on it a bit, but one thing that other races do is network and we do not do that. I’m guilty of not doing it too. When another minority (Asian, Hispanic, etc.) immigrates to the US, they network, pool money together and open a business and to send the kids to college, so they don’t have to take out loans. We don’t do that. We got to work for someone else and take out loans, to end up in debt for years to come. Whites and hispanics move up the corporate ladder, they bring other whites and hispanics up the ladder with them. We don’t do that. We move up the ladder and try so hard to fit in with the white people and not show partiality to our own. If we can come together on just those three things, we would be better off.

    • Clara

      I adore your comment. It’s so true in many ways. It’s my only hope that after this horrible TM event and verdict that black people come together and change their ways, but I have serious doubts. We might be proactive for a couple months (hopefully) but after a while, we’ll start to drift and go against each other again.

  • rainydaze80

    I think the writer was able to maintain her optimistic view on race relations in the US because she moved to a place like NY, where that idea of a melting pot and equality seem to hold up on most days. However, if she had moved to say, I dunno, Georgia, where I grew up, her little bubble would have been burst on the first day. Even in a city like Atlanta, you can be the target of racism. Anyway, it funny how she grew up in the UK and dreamed of moving to the US and I grew up in the US and dreamed of moving to Europe. During my time in various countries in Europe, I never experienced racism, maybe a few inappropriate comments from one or two people, but I’ve never been followed around in a store or stopped by police or told outright that I was the wrong color for a job, like in the US. But I wonder just like the author, where can we feel accepted? As a black American, my experience with Africans in the US has been 50/50. They’re cool, but they do look down on us to certain degree. Maybe the experience would be different in Africa, but I seriously doubt it.

    • Claudine Moore

      I think you are right…if I was in another state optimisim would have gone out the window. I will say in the UK/Europre racism is more covert as opposed to overt. It exists but is just not in your face as much ‘Brits are far too polite’ lol. Which one is easier to deal with? In your face or behind your back? Both need different tatics. Thanks for your feedback. 🙂

      • LuLuBell

        I agree! I live in London and I hate that people pretend it’s so progressive here and accepting of everyone. It’s just a front. They’re simply more sneaky and underhand with their racism

  • Danielle

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this article. I’m beginning to feel this way too although I’ve not yet had a issue with racism towards me. I don’t think moving to another country would solve anything. Black people will always be seen as the bottom of the race pool always and forever. There’s really no safe and just place for us.

    • Claudine Moore

      Thank you Danielle I am glad you liked it. I do not have the answer and I think you are right…no just and safe place as we were taken from our homes and dumped in other places. Thanks again for your comment. 🙂 @ClaudineMoore