The worst racial microaggression I experience everyday has to be that feeling of not being welcome anywhere I go. There isn’t a public place I can go where I truly feel like I “belong” there or that I’m truly “welcome” there. A perfect example of this is what I experience when I take my son to the park.
Depending on what part I go to, I get two completely different experiences. There’s one moderately sized park in a Black neighborhood that my son just loves. There are two sets of play equipment and swings he could stay on for days. Every now and then, a small daycare center with mostly Black kids is at the park at the same time as us. The teachers are very nice and the kids play together well. All in all, it’s a great experience. Then, there’s the other park.
It’s a smaller park, closer to home, but my son loves it just as much. The area it’s in is a bit more affluent and a lot more white. Most of the time we’re there, the kids that are playing have nannies with them. The nannies are great people and I frequently spend time talking to them while the children play nearby. When the parents are there, things get… Awkward. When we show up, all of a sudden it’s time for the other children to leave and boy do they leave quickly. If the parents and children show up after us, they never stay long, their kids are extremely rude to my son, and they do the parents work hard to keep my son from playing with their children. Will some people say that I’m experiencing paranoia? Inevitably they will. Is it possible this is just a coincidence? I would have said yes in the beginning, but now I’m convinced it’s not. We go to the park at least three times a week and I routinely alternate between the two. It’s become a pattern that’s hard to ignore.
Other people may be able to brush off the looks and stares, but I’ve gotten to the point where it’s slowly wearing me down. I don’t like leaving the house much, not because I don’t want to do anything, but because I don’t want to deal with the stares and glares. I don’t want to deal with the whispers behind my back and I definitely don’t want to continually expose my child to this. It’s exhausting and I simply don’t want to deal with it anymore. To be completely honest, I shouldn’t have to deal with it at all and neither should my son.
If I could shield him from racism his whole life, I would in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, he’s a little Black boy growing up in the United States. Someday soon I’ll have to explain all this to him and I’m not looking forward to that day.