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!

13 comments

  1. Once again Cole thank you for your continuous support, we truly appreciate it! I have already spoken to you in person about your comment but for the other people that may like to know when Cole was attempting to make a joke about me (a black man) singing country. I actually was not offended by this comment at all. I understand that people may have questions of why I would, could, when did I start all sorts of questions. I also know that people aren’t always as comfortable when asking these types of questions and that ackwardness my be translated and people may come across wrong. Me being aware of this I KNOW you didn’t mean anything by it.
    Oh yeah thanks for letting me use your headphones lol
    LOVE you brother!

  2. Wow… I commend you for taking the immobile five minutes before taking action. I know a lot of guys that this incident could have gotten A LOT worse with. You took the correct course of action. It is bit ok for him to disrespect you just like it wouldn’t have been ok for you to disrespect him.He should be ashamed of himself and the fact that even after realizing that you didn’t hear the initial comment that he felt ok repeating it makes me feel a bit more upset about the issue. We shouldn’t have to teach our children about the racial stereotypes that they ”should” avoid. My son LOVES bananas and I’d strike a fool dead who ever calls him a monkey within my ear shot. (Sorry, my temper needs to acquire the 5 minutes of immobility yours has.) I think quite often when comments like this are made we simply walk away as the alternative to throat punching someone. We have to find a way to make these people accountable for their actions while remaining composed and not furthering any stereotypes by behaving beneath our intelligence because we are infuriated. THIS YOU DID AND FOR THAT I’M PROUD OF YOU. I hope that more people on the receiving end of racial hatred learn this response.

  3. Woah. This post got real for good minute there. Good stuff – not just the battle, but obviously I’m on your side. I’ll be honest with you Andre. I said something pretty stupid to you at one time…you probably remember that. I liked you at that point too. I thought you were really nice and a cool guy, but I still judged you. The music thing. Do you remember that. I DO – visually actually. I remembered questioning your music taste based on your skin color. I’m not sure if I apologized right away, I can’t remember. I just know it bothered me enough that I actually brought it up to you weeks/months later and asked forgiveness for that.

    For me…I feel my upbringing had something to do with it. It wasn’t me, it was a chip off the old block as they say – some influences in my life that “subliminally” laid a light track racial tension even though I know better. (Raised in a predominately white city. There might have been 2 black people in my city of 5,000) It just came out. Granted…my comment probably didn’t go to that extent mentioned in this post, but I still CAUGHT it. I felt bad, I apologized (and meant it)…because I felt that was the only way I was going to lift that burden. The best part is…pretty sure I’m more “aware” now.

    PS-Good luck with your music endeavor – keep me in the loop

  4. POWERFUL MESSAGE!!!! Thanks for guiding me to this website. I will be spreading the word. There aren’t many out here who are willing to help others.

  5. First time reading a blog ever. I definitely will be reading more and providing my input!

  6. Wow…Dre it makes me stomach hurt to even hear a story like this, even though we know such actions still exist. And it’s really truly SAD that someone would suggest that you brush it under the rug. I was raised that some people are taught certain behaviors, that they don’t necessarily “mean” anything by it. Contrary to that, I was also raised that people don’t just say things if its not somewhere in their psyche.

    I’m far from being exempt from putting my foot in my mouth, in fact at times I think I’ve managed to shove both of them in there. But what makes me saddest about this is not that someone slipped and said something they didn’t mean…but that someone said something they meant and believed in their mind, and were foolish enough to share out loud. I think it speaks nothing on how close this person did or didn’t feel towards Dre, and that there is really no way to make a compliment out of an insult like that.

    Sadly those stereotypes don’t go away…nowhere near as hurtful I’m sure, but I’ve been told by alleged family members that the only reason a black man would get with a white woman would be to get over on her…and to be stereotyped in any way, shape, or form is wrong. That person deserves the consequence for even looking at a strong black man, up taking care of himself and going to work for his family, and trying to make a mockery of it! #teampeterson lol

  7. Hello “sws25291”!!

    First of all, thank you very much for visiting the site and I want you to know that your opinion is appreciated and respected. There are a couple points in your post that I deem to be a bit personal and appear to be an attack on my husband, but I understand that our opinion isn’t always going to be the popular one as I’m sure you understand as well, right? When you say he “addressed the situation right after it happened” I’m not sure what you mean. The “situation” wasn’t addressed with the individual at all. It was addressed through mediation with management. You indicated that you don’t work with Andre, yet you talked about him “removing a leader to reserve a spot for himself”??? For all you know Andre mops the floors at McDonald’s and this person was the district manager, meaning he wouldn’t be bumped into that position. Clearly this was taken so personal by you because you feel a personal attachment, correct? Not to say your anonymity isn’t respected, but I personally belive in transparency.

    On to the most concerning point of your post, “As an African American, this makes me sad”. It’s funny because I felt the EXACT same way reading you rationalize how a person alluding to my husband being a monkey is ok. IF in fact you are African American and you choose to accept those types of inuendos in your world I find that completely assinine. Racism isn’t funny. Period. A person who would “joke” like that in the workplace has a LOT more to say in the privacy of their own home. A person who doesn’t think, “Oh, he’s eating a healthy breakfast” and goes directly to “monkey or ape” isn’t funny. No one should have to come to WORK and be subjected to that sort of treatment. There are some common sense ground rules about office etiquette and if someone chooses not to abide by them their consequences are their own.

    The last point I would like to make is this; Andre couldn’t make the decision to have anyone let go from their position. Clearly, there were some other people who didn’t feel this was funny. There could have been a number of other consequences, i.e. demotion, suspension, etc. but someone (NOT Andre) felt this infraction should be taken seriously. While I understand that you may empathize with your friend and his situation, please understand that my husband has had way more ramifications from a situation he had NOTHING to do with than needed and a person commenting about an “outcry for attention” isn’t helping the situation. I’d love to hear more about your justification if you elect to identify yourself though. I’m always willing to take in a new perspective and offer mine. Again, thanks for stopping by! Take care!

  8. So, if you addressed you right after the situation happened, why did you feel the need to bring this above his head knowing of course of the possible outcome? I’m just curious. If someone said something that offended me, but also apologized to me right away I would have (as an adult) accepted his apology knowing that the individual was a funny guy which sometimes made jokes that were inappropriate. Did you ever stop to think that he thought you were close enough that he could make a joke like that with you? Did you ever stop to think that since he came and told you exactly what he said to your face that he didn’t think you would take it the wrong way, obviously giving you the benefit of the doubt. Not only that, he apologized immediately to you and you STILL went and took the issue over his head? This entire post and entire situation seemed like an outcry for attention and a way for you to remove a leader and reserve a spot for yourself. Sometimes friends can have playful humor with each other, whether white or black, and it takes that one person who for whatever reason decides to pull the race card and turns an innocent situation into a big deal. I don’t know you personally or work with you but I am glad I do not. As an African American this made me sad………not sad the way you are thinking, but sad that you turned a small issue into a giant one.

  9. Sorry, posted prematurely. But to continue what I was saying, It really doesn’t matter how the ‘harrasser’ meant for it to come out. All that matters is how the victim feels. By people telling you that you were wrong for taking it that way, that’s like saying a person who was raped, was wrong for going to authorities because it’s just sex.
    Once again, I apologize for drawing my own conclusions wihout even knowing what happened. I should know better and am ashamed of myself.

  10. Andre,

    I must apologize to you. I heard about what happened. Well at least somewhat. I didn’t get the details, all I heard was that this person was let go because they said something inappropriate that someone was offended by. I have to admit, that when I found out I was sad for this person because it is someone that I got a good laugh out of everyday. He was inappropriate at times, but I never took it seriously. So when I heard the little that I did hear, I assumed that whoever it was probably “took it the wrong way.”
    Shame on me for making assumptions without even knowing what was said. Shame on me for feeling pity on the culprit, which in no way shape or form is you. When a person is harrassed, it really doesnt matter how the ‘harrasser

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