How I See Racism In America

William Wilson ThinkingAbout 10 years ago, I met an elderly white woman that saw the welcoming reception I received when I went into a local sports bar I used to frequent called Coach’s. She called me over to her, and began to question me. She initially thought I was an athlete by the  reception. She’d never seen white people get up and walk across a room to say hello to a black man. When I told her I was just a guy that worked for a construction company, she began to cry. This threw me off, and I asked her what was wrong. She said she never thought she’d see the day that a young black man would be so welcomed at any establishment in Pineville, NC. This initially made me angry internally. I thought it upset her that the predominantly white bar accepted me. But her next words floored me. She said, “I marched in Selma AL with Dr. Martin Luther King.” She began to tell me how her sons were beat up on a daily basis for the parent’s beliefs that blacks should be treated equal. Her husband used to have to drive to Statesville to work because every time someone found out his view on equal rights, he’d get fired. (Statesville from Pineville is an hour drive NOW, I could imagine what it was before I-77). She said they had to buy paint 5 gallons at a time because people would come to their house at night and paint “Nigger Lovers live here” on their garage door. By the time she was done, we were both in tears. Until that point, I’d always only heard the black perspective of the civil rights movement. And it opened my eyes to a number of things in life, and gave me clarity. The lady died 2 months later. I was asked to attend the funeral and to ride in car with the family. I grew up a lot in those 2 months.

The Trayvon Martin verdict has brought out the best AND worst in our society. Some of the comments, remarks and feelings have been scathing to say the least. Race always polarizes us. Some don’t want to acknowledge it’s existence. Others place it as the blame where it is unwarranted. Though I don’t know if the verdict was racially motivated, but I personally have no doubt the catalyst of this tragic event was.

The reason I felt compelled to write this blog post this morning is based on some of the blanket statements I heard during discussions last night after the verdict. Unlike the post OJ verdict, I saw as many whites upset about the verdict as I did blacks. The people that felt “justice” was served was an infinitesimal. Yet I saw a number of people (black and white) that made blanket statements, like “White people don’t want to admit they’re racist.” or “Every time black people don’t get what they want they throw the race card.” There are no absolutes in life, except death.

Racism is alive and well, but with every generation it’s weakened more and more. Racism’s biggest asset are the older generations. The generations that witnessed/ experienced it first hand, in person. Unfortunately, many of these people are the ones that still make rules, legislation, hiring decisions, and the significant choices in society. They tend to not only be racist, they tend to also be sexist and homophobic. Again, not all of them, but some. But America is getting better in spite of them. I recently went to 2 comedy shows with black headliners, and the audience was almost 50/50, white to  black. That’s progress. When I was in high school, an interracial couple was practically a scandal, now it’s common place. That’s progress. I’ve seen young children playing, and having a great time. Then a Hispanic kid walks up, and the kids naturally acclimate him into their games. Then suddenly, the parents that just told their children they have another hour to play, suddenly have to leave.

Racism isn’t hereditary. It’s not instinctual. It’s taught. It’s passed down. It comes from experiences. The most racist people I have ever experienced seem to have never actually spent time getting to know the people they hate. It’s ignorance and lack of exposure. We are not that different. I hear white mothers with the same concerns as black mothers. Black fathers have the same concerns as white ones. The greatest weapons we have in the battle against racism is education and exposure. I’m the only black person many of my older white friends interact with. Chris Rock had a line that I found very funny, and fit MY life. “All my black friends have a bunch of white friends. All my white friends have 1 black friend.” America is getting better with each generation as far as race goes. And it will continue to get better, but it will never go away. That’s sad, but it’s true. All we can do is pray, and try to treat everyone the way we would like to be treated. If we do that, IT WILL GET BETTER. Then maybe we can vote in some people to Washington DC that an help us with this economy. Until next time……

God bless and dress well.

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

Follow William on Twitter: @theclothier

11 thoughts on “How I See Racism In America

  1. That was an Amazing Story, and You are So right… Racism is Taught.. I grew up in a small town, where interracial couples did not exist, now it is an everyday thing, you see it everywhere, some people don’t like it, but it still exists today… And it is getting better, slowly but surely ! I have some Amazing Stories I could tell, but, it would take a LONG time ! Keep up the good work William, You are a Great Inspiration to many !

  2. I love your comments about racism. I’m a 63 year old white woman who feels like the lady who became your friend. When Obama was elected, I sat on my bed and cried like a baby. I was so happy he won, but to me it was like “YES” America, you have finally looked past the color of his skin, and voted for a wonderful and smart man. I thought this was so great! It was, but it has brought out the worse in a lot of the white south. Instead, they have crossed him on everything he has tried to do for this country and they have shown so much hate that it’s hard for me to see and listen to it. I can’t imagine how strong he and his family are to carry themselves so far above this with so much dignity. Racism is very much alive, but there are a lot of people like me out here. I know because I gravitate toward them. Your blog is wonderful and I plan on reading more and share with my friends.

  3. William,

    In your blog you write that the “catalyst of this tragic event” was racially motivated. You presume too much, my friend. You cannot possibly know what was in Zimmerman’s mind that night. To unequivocally assert that Zimmerman targeted Martin because he was black is to state your opinion only. It might sound good to those who are sympathetic, but it does not make it fact.

    Consider this, William: If Martin, as it was claimed, was fearful when he and Zimmerman met, why didn’t he run away? No one will ever think that Zimmerman might have kept up with Martin in a foot race.

    Could it have been that when Martin realized the wannabe cop was tailing him, that he snapped an attitude, that he stopped his journey home to confront Zimmerman, that they had words, that Martin popped him in the face, knocking him to the ground and then began pummeling him?

    Have you considered why Martin did not just simply say to Zimmerman, “Hey man, what’s up? Yeah man I’m just headed home, been to the store. Naw it’s cool man, I know there’s a lot of crime goes on here. Glad you’re out here lookin’ after your neighborhood.”?

    Do you seriously believe there is only one absolute?

    • Scott, I ABSOLUTELY Whole heartedly believe the catalyst was racially motivated. I feel like a broken record saying this, but if you listen to the police non emergency call he made BEFORE he approached Trayvon, this would not even be a question, unless you don’t want to believe the truth. As for why didn’t Trayvon run, HE DID. He walked off. As for why didn’t he go home, would you tell your child to lead a person that is stalking them to your house. Would you tell your lovely bride that if someone was following her to lead them to her house, where they can then watch her without her even knowing and being in more danger. And why are you putting a kid that was walking down the street minding his own business on trial, but giving Zimmerman a pass? He stalked Trayvon. He followed him, and he provoked an altercation. Why aren’t you asking why a grown man is watching a 17 year old kid. Wouldn’t you be concerned if a grown man was sitting in his car staring at your 17 year old child? Of course you would. And I have no doubt you would have done something about it. IF you listed to the names that Zimmerman called Martin, not knowing anything about him, then there is ONLY ONE conclusion to come up with. And if this had happened to your child and all the facts remained, ESPECIALLY the fact that he was not only instructed BY THE POLICE to not engage him (which he disregarded), he was also a neighborhood watch captain. Which means he was trained in what EXACTLY to do in this kind of situation, and he failed to follow his training. If you know anything about me, you would know I AM NOT one to use the race card lightly. Nor am I one to just accuse people of being racist. I am objective and call it like I see it. There is NO REASON there should have been ANY verdict or trial, because this should never have happened. If Zimmerman would have followed his training, or the police instructions, he would not only still be home, but Trayvon Martin would too. I’m sorry if you wish to not accept that Zimmerman’s responsibility in this, and that you would rather blame to CHILD for not being the ADULT, but that is your God given right. You have the right to believe whatever you want. But wanting to believe something is what you think it is doesn’t make it right. If you can listen to the words he was calling Trayvon Martin (again-a child he didn’t know) and the tone of that call and deduce that it wasn’t racially motivated, then there is no need to continue this debate, and we can respectfully agree to disagree. I just fail to believe that if it were your child that it happened to, you’d blame your child and not the killer.

  4. As a 41 year old white male, I have never understood the point in racism. I grew up in a small town where racism was commonplace. I grew up in a house where there was mild racism against blacks. I heard it often, but never understood it. All throughout my grade school years I got along with everyone regardless of race or gender. As long as I can remember, I have always had the attitude of treating people how I wanted to be treated. If you treat me with respect than respect is what you get in return. Even though I heard racist comments at home I refused to believe it because the black people I was friends with proved them wrong. The friendships I shared with black people was exactly like the friendships I shared with white people. So to me, there was no difference between black and white people except the color of our skin. I wish more people, both black and white, would have had the same feelings about race growing up as I did. We all have the same concerns and desires in life and race should never be a thought or reason for anything. Unfortunately racism is alive and well. Some people even make a good living promoting racism while acting like they are fighting racism. Hopefully in my lifetime those people will be out of work. I would love to see the day that all of us can reach for and share in the same dreams without the word “race” being used.

  5. EXACTLY. Zimmerman took it upon himself to continue to pursue Trayvon AFTER the authorities told him not to. Once he made the decision to pursue an unarmed child with a gun because of what he ASSUMED –he was wrong. Period. WHY did Zimmerman pursue Trayvon? He was not endangering him or anyone at that point…he was leaving….but Zimmerman CHOSE to stalk him. Trayvon had every right at this point to protect HIMSELF. If the only way Zimmerman, a grown man, could constrain a 17 year old kid was by shooting him fatally in the CHEST(not holding the gun on him until authorities arrived—but SHOOTING him)–then you HAVE to question it deeper and further.

    Zimmerman made the wrong decision and his poor decision rooted in pride, deep seated racism and unjust fear cost a child his life. I’m sorry but William has nailed this right on the head. You can put your head in the sand if you wish…but you cannot explain away this motive. Its too simple for it to be made complicated. It was Zimmerman’s choices and his gun that cost Trayvon his life. Not a hoodie, not skittles, not an ice tea, not where he was walking or why…He had every right to be where he was, Zimmerman violated Trayvon right to simply walk down the street. How you can defend that brings me to tears.

    Great post William. I am so grateful for those of all colors, races, ethnicities who are seeing this as the true travesty it is. We have to keep educating people and pulling the covers back, whether they want to face it or not. I’m with you.

  6. Great story William. I think that people who are not a “minority” simply do not understand…thus why it was easy for 5 white women and one Hispanic to render a “not guilty” verdict. It’s not that they are racist but hold racially-driven prejudices and stereotypes. Now, I am completely assuming here, but I imagine they would’ve thought the teen looked suspicious as well and sympathized with Zimmerman.

    Why are people now blaming a child for his own death? He didn’t walk fast enough (according to Zimmerman), he didn’t look like a athlete who trained in the rain (according to Zimmerman), he’s up to something (according to Zimmerman). What kind of precedent has been set by this? Somebody can not agree with the way I walk and gun me down??

    If there was no ill-will, then why didn’t Zimmerman, being the stand up guy and youth mentor (as people have said), introduce himself and say he was neighborhood watch captain??? No, he was on a vigilante mission.

    I won’t go on a tangent but it is a scary time for little black boys.

    It is truly a sad time.

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