I Think I Was Called A Monkey Today…

“Drea…I just wanted to let you know that I am truly sorry for my stupid comment and wanting you to know that I respect you as a friend…  and peer.  Please accept my sincerest apology and I hope you can forgive me and know that your friendship means the world to me again…I am so very sorry.”  This was the text that I received shortly after this person’s comment was addressed. He could have at least spelled my name right when he sent the text…

I want to start this blog by saying this is my opinion and also my means of release. This occurrence has affected me greatly and I feel the need to debrief myself.  My opinion doesn’t represent anyone else but my own.  With that being said, let us get to it…

Woke up this morning about 5am to the sound of my gym alarm.  Woke up again at 5:30am so that I could actually make it to the gym lol never did the thought cross my mind that I would be referred to as a monkey today.  Made it to the gym about 6:10am stretched out so that I could avoid injury.  Played hard enough to fall and skin my knee on the court.  Leaving the gym I purchased a banana with the change that I grabbed off the dresser, but never thought that I would be the victim of a racial slur today.  I rushed home after the gym showered and on with the start of my day.  I was in such a rush that I didn’t have time to eat the banana so I took it with me.  Got to where I was going (not wanting to implicate any person or business) and almost left the banana in the car, remembered it and grabbed it.  I see a bunch of people huddled outside only to find out that the storm from the night before knocked out the power. I think to myself “perfect time to eat my banana”.  I peel it and start to walk away from the generator spewing out diesel exhaust so that I can actually enjoy it.  As I walked past two white gentlemen, one older and one younger I noticed the older one said something to the younger man. I thought nothing of it, I was clearly engrossed in my banana a bit too much lol.  The older gentleman thought that I heard him because the first thing he said to me was “ha ha sorry about that I was just joking with you”.  I replied “oh I didn’t even hear you, what did you say?”.  He proceeded to say “I said that it’s good to see you keeping the stereotype alive”.  Now I wasn’t done with my banana when he told me this, but I stood in the same position for about 5 minutes before I could even find the words to say. I spoke to the proper people and…

I spoke with him face to face with a person there to witness.  I attempted to get some answers from him about the situation.  So I asked him how a black man eating a banana for breakfast takes his mind to a monkey eating a banana? His response was “I don’t have a way to answer that”.  He also said that “He hopes that I know him enough to know that he didn’t mean anything by it”.  I responded “So you are attempting to put this in my lap, by saying that I SHOULD know that you didn’t mean it to hurt my feelings.  He also stated that it was a joke, which promptly prompted me to ask what is funny about it?  No answer…

It is now 2:13pm and my mind has been back and forth over and over on this subject and they only thing I keep thinking is “What if I hadn’t been eating a banana?, Why did I have to be running behind this morning and have no time to eat the banana earlier?”. So I have to really take some accountability for how I might have contributed to being called a monkey.  The first thing I could have done to avoid being called a monkey is to not be born black.  It is a little too late for that now so what other options did I have to avoid being called a monkey?  I could have eaten the banana in the privacy of my own home.  If he would have never SAW me actually eating the banana I would have never placed myself in such a predicament.  Silly me to think that I could be free enough to walk around eating a banana!  I mean I refrain from watermelon in certain situations to avoid the looks I sometimes get.  Also I have to be aware of where I may order chicken, but I totally had forgotten about banana’s being a trigger for racial slurs. Silly me to be that far out of touch with reality.  I will teach my children that it is not ok to eat bananas in public.  If they do choose to eat bananas in public and they are referred to as monkeys then in some way that it is their own fault.  I mean who the hell am I to think that a black man is safe to walk around with a banana in 2012 and NOT be referred to as a monkey, silly me.

I IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM DID ANYTHING TO DESERVE WHAT WAS SAID TO ME! I HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT MY JOB TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM PROVIDING FOR HIS FAMILY IF HE HIMSELF DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THEM BEFORE HE OPENED HIS MOUTH AND SAID THAT STUPID COMMENT. I ABLSOVE MYSELF OF ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT HAPPENED.  THE ONLY THING THAT I AM GUILTY OF IS ATTEMPTING TO EAT HEALTHY AFTER A GOOD WORKOUT AND EXERCISING MY RIGHT TO SPEAK UP!

I have a question for the viewers of this blog post, HOW WOULD YOU PERSONALLY HAVE HANDLED THIS SITUATION? And why?

Please remember this blog is a safe place for ALL people to voice their opinions.

So this point of this blog is actually 2 days after the initial incident.  I thought that I was done with this blog but as time passes after what happened I have actually learned one thing, I have never felt like this before in my life. I don’t mean to make what happened to me seem bigger than other people might believe it to be.  What I really want to do at this point is to shed light on the after effects of a racial slur.  I have compared it to being raped or sexually assaulted.  They are both a violation of a person’s personal rights. So how do I feel?  I feel mentally drained and hurt.  My world has been affected more than I initially considered that it would be.  I went to the gym this morning and had a banana which I have one almost every morning I go to the gym.  I had to eat my banana in the house.  My son was playing with a toy monkey and even though I was joking when I said it I said no playing with monkeys in my house.  Truthfully I had the mind to go back to the scene of it all today clean shaven, slacks and freshly pressed shirt, I was looking to put the whole thing behind me.  When I actually got to work I sat in my 98 degree car for 5 minutes.  The butterflies in my stomach were like a constant roller coaster drop.  I did not want to go back in but I knew that I had to.  J C said it best “it happened now get over it”.  J K made me really feel like whatever he could do to make me feel better he was willing to do.  J B was an ear; she didn’t say much outside of asking what can she do to help make this right.  J H talked to me and prayed with me.  YOU are such an excellent friend and mentor to me.  I thank each and every one of the people that I just mentioned.  But the person that I really want to thank and his name doesn’t start with a J.  This person’s initials are T F.  T F I thank you for coming to check on me.  You being a white man speaking from a white man’s perspective telling me that you felt like I did the right thing, made a world of difference for me today.  By you doing that it repaired a lot of what I had allowed him the power to tear down.  I had given him the power to play in my head with his words.  The good that has come from this is I will have no issues reporting racial “ jokes” or any types of discrimination or slurs disguised as “jokes”. The bad that has come from this is I have had people that look like me (points to skin color on arm) actually tell me that “he didn’t mean it like that…I think you handled it wrong”.  To that I say this if you feel like it is not that bad to be referred to as a monkey than you keep right on allowing yourself to be disrespected.  I choose to address things with all the power afforded me.  I have a voice and I will use it to first of all up hold my ancestors that fought and died for the right to be called a MAN/WOMAN.  Secondly to shame those of men who still perpetuate racial inequality.  You should be ashamed of yourself; your wife should be ashamed to be married to you. Your kids should be ashamed to have such a small minded man as a father.  I hope this follows you throughout your life sir.  Although I forgive you, I will never ever forget the hate filled words that you shared with me.  For the record I am not your, nor any man’s MONKEY!

Are you willing to stand up for yourself and others who may not have the mind to stand up for themselves?

LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!  LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!   LIFEGUARD MOVEMENT!