Prominent African Americans recall painful and life-altering brushes with discrimination
“Modern racism is a much more subtle, nuanced, slippery beast than its father or grandfather were. It has ways of making itself seem to not exist, which can drive you crazy trying to prove its existence sometimes. You’re in Target. Is the security guard following you? You’re not sure. You think he is but you can’t be certain. Maybe the guard is black, so if you tried to explain it to a white friend they might not understand it as racist, but the guard’s boss isn’t black. Or maybe he is. Maybe what you’re feeling are his ashamed vibes as if he’s sending you a silent signal of apology for following you. Or maybe . . . now you’re looking for the Tylenol for migraines when you all you needed was toothpaste.
And that’s one of the basest examples of racism. That says nothing of the constellation of anxieties that could flash through you when the stakes are high–when you’re applying for a job or competing for a promotion, or applying to a school, buying a house, or asking for a loan. When you’re wondering if the white person who appears less qualified got the promotion because they were actually better than you or because they were better at networking upper management, or someone wrongly assumed you’re not as good because you’re black or . . . ”
Read the rest of the article from The Atlantic Magazine (September 2011)
The article is adapted from the book: “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to be Black Now” by Toure