There is no doubt that the various races in America experience things differently from each other. This comes as a result of cultural differences, history, and practices. These differences are even recognized through the societal classification “race.” These experiences define us which brings me to the Black Experience. What is the Black Experience? Is it possible for other races to understand?
I am a Black female. Born and raised in Detroit, MI. I have traveled all over: Florida, the Carolinas, DC, New York, California, Mississippi, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Canada, Spain, Portugal. I have many experiences that have defined who I am. Black experiences.
Not everyone experiences watching Alex Haley’s Roots. Learning that our people were brought over in slave ships. The Black Experience. Not everyone experiences a store clerk following you around in a shoe store assuming I took boots out of a box and put them on to walk out of the store, not that I walked into the store with them on and paid for the boots myself. The Black Experience. Not everyone experiences wearing earrings in the shape of Africa and someone automatically assuming I’m from Africa and not considering that I could be recognizing my African heritage and acknowledging in history where I come from. The Black Experience.
Not everyone experiences watching a black man get run down by a truck in Wayne, MI. To watch the man jump out of the way. And to watch the driver to yell out the N word. I cried and I cried. I experienced that. But not everyone experiences being that black man getting run down. The Black experience.
I learned that the Black Panthers were a positive organization. They contained members who protected their own in the Black neighborhoods. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned of the Black Panthers being portrayed as people who’s mission was to attacked whites. The Black Experience.
Every black person does not experience all of these occurrences. There are plenty of events some other blacks in America have experienced that I have not. That’s where the diversity of the African American race comes in. When Peggy McIntosh speaks of White Privilege she is attempting to understand black life. Whites have the privilege of ignoring and being disinterested in the Black Experience. If whites want to understand the Black Experience they have to be willing to listen. They cannot come defensive and closed minded. Otherwise neither blacks, whites, nor America will be successful.
Haley, Alex. Roots: The Saga of an American Family. 1976