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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Op-Ed: My Why by Carla Thomson

My Why

By Carla Thompson

In November 2016 Trump won the presidential election to become the next president of the United States; who would have thought? For years we have watched him lie, deceive, and cheat. Then America voted for him.
Trump being elected president wouldn’t have bothered me if the man’s character held any positive value- if he had used his wealth for the betterment of the world, like say Bill Gates. But enough of that; the only reason Trump matters in my story is he caused me to open my eyes.

I was born in Guyana and immigrated with my parents to the United States around eight years old. I was teased in school by Black kids and sixth and seventh grade sucked. Those years made me wish I was lighter, prettier, and didn’t speak with an accent. I desired to become better, which to me at the time meant lighter. I separated myself from my blackness.
I didn’t listen to hip hop or rap, I choose soft rock and easy listening. I didn’t speak slang and I got upset with family members who did. I even wanted to marry a white man, so my kids wouldn’t be as dark as me. I had issues, bullying issues.
And this leads me back to Trump.

During the months leading up to the election a dog whistle was blown: “Make America great again”. I believe what was heard was “I will make America as it was in the 1950’s and before”. I wasn’t a frequent visitor to Facebook until February 2017, A.D., which is "after Donald" took office. It amazed me how people of color are hated because we have a complexion that had nothing to do with a decision we made, nor an intrinsic choice. It was just hurtful.

The big lie America told those of us who don’t know our history, is that we are equal in her eyes. The issue isn’t black or white, America says, its rich or poor. Anyone can be rich if they work hard, and keep their nose to the grind stone. Work hard and things will change. Never mind Jim Crow laws, all that ended in the 1960s and is irrelevant in 2017.

My insight to being black changed in those days A.D. Although I had been taught as a child to hate who I was because of the color of my skin, I had grown to learn that bullying is not just a black thing, it's a human thing. My accent, complexion, hair, and face were things that were different to them.

The awakening caused me to read about true history, not the fairy tales that were taught in school. I didn’t know about Liberia, red lining, Brown v. Board of Education and so many more decisions made for people of color. Before, I was one who thought my vote didn’t count so I only voted in the  presidential-election years; then, I complained my vote didn’t count and how old Caucasians made decisions for me. I went out like millions of others who had to figured out that the midterms elections mean something.

Midterms are when members of state and federal congress  are elected; and yes, they do matter! I want to get involved in the decision making. I want to get involved in activism. I want people of color to know that voting matters. How can you complain in a household if you don’t know what is happening?

President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." And he appointed the first black to HUD agency.
I'm just saying!

Carla Thompson

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