The Race Card

My skin color does not matter to me. I believe that I am most capable, compassionate, and creative, having ZERO to do with how much melanin my body produces.

My skin color only matters when I am placed in a context where it matters. You ask me if I am black when I apply to school. You ask me if I am black when I request assistance like school lunch. You ask me if I am black when I fill out job applications. You ask me if I am black at the doctors office. When I get get my driver’s license. When I give blood. When I apply for scholarships or student loans.

You remind me when you show mostly Black people committing crimes in our neighborhoods, though we kill our kind at the same statistical rate. When I am hired, you imply affirmative action and that I do not deserve to be where I am–that somebody gave me something that I worked twice as hard to qualified for. When my hair isn’t straightened, you make rude comments and overstep boundaries by trying to pet me like a dog as though we are standing at the courthouse slave auction or, even worse, a human zoo.

When I am driving along, you pull me over-even though I have not broken any laws because black people in nice (or not so nice) cars must be up to no good if driving through your neighborhoods. When I wear my hoodie, you move to the other side of the street as though my only thought is mugging you rather than staying warm wearing my alma mater’s sweatshirt. When I wear my suit, you assume I am waitstaff because “my” people don’t usually dress like that.

Now tell me again who is pulling the race card?

Please understand: not one black person in America wants to spend their time or energy on race. But everything we encounter demands that we take it into account: not because it truly matters as a way to gauge our value, but because it is the way that America gauges our value and how mentally prepared we are to be devalued over and over again.

I am NOT my skin. And maybe one day, you will see what I see. Until then, we are destined to play this horribly tedious card game with you pulling it, and me snatching it back.

© Kisha L Spencer


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