The weekend before last, my husband and I spent the evening upstate with our parents. My mom made Roti, a traditional West Indian dish for my husbands mom, my dad, my husband and me. My mom is from Trinidad, my dad from Savanah, Georgia and my husband parents are both from Haiti.
At the dinner table just listening to then talk, I discovered that both my mom and mom in law came to America in the June in the late 1960s. My dad made his first ever train trip to New York around the same time. He told me that his mom packed him a shoebox lunch because Blacks were not allowed to go the dining car. My father would not have been welcome in the dinner car of the train he paid the fare to travel on. But he said he was fine. His dinner was great. Chicken, pound cake, classic homemade Southern cooking. I may not be able to imagine a time when I could have been killed for drinking from the same fountain as a white person but my parents came up during the end of segregation and they all agreed that segregation was not the problem.
Life as I Know it says it best.
“When the subordinate culture integrates with the dominant culture the subordinate culture ALWAYS conforms to the dominant cultures ideals and values.”
In fact, in her post, she highlights my point, unpopular though it may be, perfectly.
Is race a quality?
I’m still not sure how to answer that question although I told Abbey I thought it was. I think I was trying to draw a definite line in the sand to ensure she would never cross it to try and occupy a space in my life she could never even begin to understand.
If race is a quality than it is systematic racism as implemented by the White race, which has made it so because it ascribes the worst of qualities to anyone with Black or Brown skin and the best to those who identify as White. But since all of those ascriptions are obviously lies, the truth keeps bringing White people back around to the same tactics. Slavery, Segregation, genocide profiling, incarceration.
It’s not my fault that Abbey and I would never be close friends but the fault of those who, like her, identify as White and never question the reason for their privilege, yet want to play hopscotch around the boundaries of race like it’s an amusement park.
Integration should create beneficial change, uplift and opportunity for all involved, not only the dominant culture. Integration was never integration. It is assimilation, homogenization, appropriation by the dominant culture.
My favorite definition of integration in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary referes to organisms:
b : the process by which the different parts of an organism are made a functional and structural whole.
I believe that human beings can be classified as very complex organisms with boundless untapped potential. But as long as I’ve been alive I’ve have rarely ever experienced the kind of integration described above in the ways in which is was allegedly meant to function. Would we even be able to recognize the true definition of integration among the races in action if we saw it?
Sometimes I worry we’ve become too comfortable with the lies or worse, that those who suffer predominantly at the hands of these lies don’t even understand that they are lies.
And I didn’t come here to lie to you.