Intersections – Red flags

Posted by Dena Mellick June 24, 2015
Nicki Salcedo

Nicki Salcedo

By Nicki Salcedo

When nine people are murdered in their place of worship, the problem isn’t South Carolina. The problem isn’t guns or mental health issues. The problem isn’t the lack of education that first causes subtle biases and later hatred.

The problem isn’t the rebel flag.

The problem is believing that racism is some distant concept that lives only in South Carolina. A lot of people unknowingly contribute to racism in America. The problem is thinking that you aren’t part of the problem when you are.

When I arrived at Stanford, my freshman roommate’s first question to me was, “What was it like growing up in Georgia? It’s such a racist place.”

She’d never been to Georgia. She was from Long Beach, California. I was from Stone Mountain, Georgia the rebirth place of the Klu Klux Klan. I considered myself shy as a young adult. Shy, but not soft spoken.

“How does it feel to come from the home of the Rodney King riots?” I asked.

I did not experience overt racism growing up. Maybe I felt different. I knew when I was being watched at the pool, but no one ever called me the N-word. I’ve even seen a Klan march once. They held up traffic on Memorial Drive one Saturday when I was a kid. The cops on duty were both black and white. There were no spectators except those of us trying to get to Northlake Mall that afternoon.

My college roommate attended a high school with one black student. It was one of those fancy Southern California private schools that had a “The” in front of the name. Her parents were both doctors. Psychiatrists. She smoked pot. On weekends her boyfriend would drive up so they could have sex in the common room. She thought I was backwoods.

She saw no irony in the lack of diversity in her life or in her attempts to follow every spoiled-girl cliché in the book. I learned about racism from her.

I learned about racism on a business trip to Manhattan as an adult. When I entered the office of the publisher, I spoke to the receptionist while we waited for our meeting to start. I have the habit of talking to receptionists and servers at weddings and maintenance men in hotels.

“You are the first black person I’ve ever seen go into a meeting with Mr. Smith,” she said in a whisper. “I’ve worked here 20 years.” She smiled at me proudly. In the distance, I could see the water of the Upper Bay and the Statue of Liberty.

That night we dined at a place called Gotham. No matter how hard I try to avoid clichés in my life, they find me. Mr. Smith sat next to me. I was the only person of color, any color, in the entire restaurant. Usually there is the busboy or the lady in the coat check or someone in the kitchen who looks like me. Someone Asian or Mexican or Indian or something. There was nothing but a sea of white faces. For all of my uncomfortable moments in life, it was the first time I knew with certainty that racism was not a Southern thing.

It is easy to blame Bubbas and rednecks, but what about communities absent of diversity by exclusion? I never experienced true racism until I got to San Francisco and New York. Maybe those cities would reject the idea that they are racist, but as I’ve moved into adulthood I’ve developed a new awareness of what racism looks like.

When I moved back to Atlanta, we had a period of time when we were looking for a church to attend. We visited black churches. We visited white churches. We visited integrated churches which meant a handful of black people at a white church or a handful of white people at black church.

We visited a church in Decatur several times. Each Sunday, we filled out the visitor form and said we’d like a call or visit from the pastor. Each week, no call came. On the final Sunday we attended, an old woman in the church turned to us during the welcome portion of the service. As we shook hands she said, “You know there are a lot of other nice churches in Decatur.”

I was not welcome in their house of worship. I understand. Racism is quietly everywhere. Well, get out your rebel flag. Wave it on Sundays and Saturdays and during Wednesday night Bible study.

Don’t talk to me about South Carolina. Don’t talk to me about guns. Or the Confederate flag.  There are other ways racism is perpetuated that are more subtle and dangerous. I’ve seen the red flags.

I don’t need everyone to love each other and hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” We don’t have to all get along.

We do need to stop lying to ourselves about where racism hides and what to do when it shows its face. The face of racism is born out of a lifetime of being separate by convenience, by choice, for comfort. In New York, in L.A., in Atlanta.

I’d like you to tell me why I was the only black person at your wedding and garden party. Tell me why you don’t have any Jewish friends. Tell me why you don’t read books by Asian authors. Tell me why you don’t like Indian food, then explain further that you’ve never tried it.

Don’t tell me about South Carolina. Don’t tell me who you voted for. Don’t tell me about that red flag while ignoring the others. Tell me about your life and how we are the same and where we can find intersections. I will listen. I will believe you.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.

About Dena Mellick

Dena Mellick is the Associate Editor of

View all posts by Dena Mellick

  • bound2ga

    Awesome article! It’s easy for some to forget how multi-faceted racism really is.

  • Bill Jones

    People are racists because they don’t read books from an Asian author? Your roommate in college was racist because she smoked pot and went to a private school? It sounds like you are the one with the problem.

    Everywhere you go is not going to be perfect pie chart of the demographics of the US. Just because you go to a restaurant and there are no black people, does not mean that everyone there is a racist or that the owners are racist. I went to an Indian restaurant the other day. I was the only white person there. There were only Indians in the kitchen and staff. They must all be racist, huh? As long as people are not discriminating in hiring or with who they let in, why is it racist? “Absence of Diversity by Exclusion”? Who is excluding? Was there someone at the door stopping people of color from getting in?

    People are tribal. White, black, Asian, men, women. People hang out with people they feel a close connection with, and many times people with the same ethnic background hang out together because they share a commonality in point of view and experience. They have things to talk about. Blacks do this too. Are they raving racists for doing so? I recently went to a wedding in which the bride and groom were black. My family were the only white people there. Unlike you apparently, I didn’t stew the whole time at their special day that my friends were racist and I didn’t know it. I guess I’m not that narcissistic.

    You write: “No matter how hard I try to avoid clichés in my life, they find me.” Maybe its because you are looking so hard to find racism everywhere that you find it where it doesn’t even exist. You write “Tell me why you don’t have any Jewish friends. Tell me why you don’t read books by Asian authors. Tell me why you don’t like Indian food, then explain further that you’ve never tried it.” No one has to explain anything to you. Get over yourself. People aren’t racist unless they prove to you otherwise.
    It must be tough living life like that. Maybe if you were less accusatory and gave people the benefit of the doubt, they may be more accepting.

    • Maggie Worth

      There is so much to be said about how misguided and absurdist and contortionist your response is — and how clearly it proves the points in the blog better than the blog itself. But I feel no hope that you have an interest in intelligent, reasonable discourse, so I’ll just leave this here in case your mind ever opens up and you decide to educate yourself about the reality of the world around you:

      • Bill Jones

        What is misguided or absurdist about it? You are just throwing insults.

        What point do you disagree with?

        Here is something for you to look at. When Bill Maher, calls liberals out for being crazy because they instinctively call everything “racist” “sexist”, it is time to reassess.

      • Bill Jones

        I read your article. Essentially, it says if you are white, then you are racist. If you deny your are racist, then that confirms your racism.
        Sorry, but I am white and I immigrated here recently. I am not racist and I am not responsible for what other white people did before I came.
        Good luck with the white guilt. I don’t have any.

        • Maggie Worth

          And I wouldn’t expect you to. You clearly didn’t understand either Nicki’s post or the article I referenced so I really can’t help you. But maybe someday.

          • Bill Jones

            Help me with what? This is seems very Orwellian.

          • Maggie Worth

            I’m just honestly not sure that, as a newcomer to this country’s nuttiness, you can possibly grasp the degree to which racism permeates American culture. It’s is almost inexplicable. In many ways, you have to live it to believe it. I’d challenge you to do this: watch and listen carefully over the next 2-3 years. Have conversations. Think critically about what you hear and see. Then come back and tell me if your viewpoint isn’t a bit different than the one you’ve expressed today. That’s all I’d ask. Or, you know, you could stick your head in the sand and refuse to hear anything contrary to what you already believe. It’s up to you entirely. I’m hoping you’re more evolved than the latter.

          • Bill Jones

            I will do that.
            However, the way racism is defined here is not objective. Rather, it is what is subjectively inferred by people who claim to be a victim of it.
            In every one of the examples given by the author, except for the church incident, racism was subjectively inferred by the author, not expressed by the purported racist. Your article references “unconscious” racism and suggests that we are being racist and don’t know it. It suggests we ask people of color to tell whites when they feel they are being offended.
            Since people don’t feel the same things, how can one reliably mold their behavior to keep everyone happy and unoffended? Anyone can accuse you of being a racist “subconsciously”.
            It seems to me really crazy to try to function in a society where you have to guide what you say and do subject to the subjective, emotional inferences of someone else, regardless of what is in your own heart or whether the other person’s motives are true.

          • Nicki Salcedo

            I have rules. Discuss. Debate. Be nice.

          • maggy

            I agree.

  • Elle

    “Tribalism exists in the animal kingdom, and this is what I think is at the base of this,” said Nye, who then described the history of humans migrating from East Africa. “It started because you’ve got these tribes and you’ve got different skin color as a result of ultraviolet light.”

    “We’re all the same, from a scientific standpoint, There’s no such thing as race — but there is such a thing as tribalism.” ~ Bill Nye

    • Bill Jones

      If there is no such thing as race, then there can be no such thing as racism. If there we are all the same, then there is no such thing as diversity. Which is it?
      As far as tribalism, go tell women who want to have a “girl’s weekend” or black people who way “its a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” or people in Asian countries that have ethnic traditions that this should all be abolished because you don’t approve. Are we going to police private gatherings and friend rosters to make sure that we all have the proper quota?
      This PC nonsense that people should have the deomographic makeup of friends that other people find acceptable is really twisted.

      • travelingfool

        This is a great article and I have many such experiences and much severe than this an African American male. When we bring up the subject of race I think individuals such as Bill go into a rant without even thinking or considering the feelings of others. I think most, not all, blacks just want whites such as Bill to acknowledge that even though we have a black President, there is still racism in the world. We’re not saying every white person is racist, just that yes, black males do get profiled regardless of income level. I was upset when someone running for a school board sent out two separate mailers, one with a black person on it that tried to tie the school board race to civil rights. They sent another with a nice family portrait on it with that white person’s family. You can guess which mailer went to whom, but when I brought this up on a list serve a white person said that it was inflammatory. Not the fact that the separate flyers were sent, but that I had the audacity to acknowledge it.

    • Bill Jones

      Based on this quote, tribalism preceded the evolution of races, so tribalism is really more engrained in our DNA than race. Interesting.

    • KissMyGrits

      If we are all the same from a “scientific standpoint” then why on my lab results does my GFR (kidney function) have two values, African American and non-AF? What if a person is black but not an American? What value do they use? And with the new “right” to chose my race, can I go with the AF value since it is better?

  • Maggie Worth

    Thank you for posting this despite knowing you’ll get crap on all fronts. Thank you for speaking and pointing out and explaining. I know it must feel pointless sometimes because so many people can’t hear you over the sound of their own voices and fear, but others are listening — more now, I think, than ever before. Thank you (in advance) for telling me to stop when I do well-meaning but wrong sh*t. Thank you for trusting enough to not hold back. Thank you thank you for being you.

  • Pol

    in many of the examples you gave, there are a lot of explanations besides racism. Throwing that label irresponsibly diminishes the fight against real racism.

    • LAL

      Pol, are you white?

  • Eric

    “Tell me why you don’t like Indian food, then explain further that you’ve never tried it.”

    Tried it. Twice. Both times, I thought I had a urinary tract infection a couple hours later. Something about those spices…

    Interesting post. Even more interesting comments.

  • Susan Paul Johnson

    I want to have coffee with Nikki! Thanks for this. Also, I live in Decatur – and we would welcome you at our church.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      I want to have coffee with you. It has to be decaf. With lots of milk. Or just warm milk. With sugar or honey.

      • Susan Paul Johnson

        That is all easily done! How about sometime the week of July 6th? Mornings are best for me. You can email me at

  • Teri Lee Earl

    Thank you for a a good expose’ about how racism has always been all over the United States. People who grew up in southern states have long suffered through the presumption they are racist or more racist than the rest of the U.S., when they are not. In fact, the reverse might be true. My husband’s family, for instance, was from the North. He had a cousin who married a black man. My father-in-law loudly ‘boycotted’ their baby shower, saying it would be a mixed race baby. So, my husband and I were sure to drive the hour it took to go to this mixed race couple’s baby shower, taking our toddler with us. This was in the mid 1980s. My husband was very angry with his father for it. It was important to him he leave his father and any loyal racist family members in the dust. We did not care about the peer pressure they might put upon us, including boycotting us. As for me, I was astonished to see racism like that as late as the 1980s, –a racism I did not witness the Southern families I had grown up amongst. Occasionally, I would tell people the story, in part to make it clear I was not interested in racism like that. I also told the story to our own children, as well as teach them to avoid all KKK material. I taught them this was not true Christianity, and it was a cult of hate. They were pre-teens when I taught them this. Sadly, many white people who only know which state or region of the United States I grew up in, still assume the worst of me. They have no evidence or reason to suspect anything about my character except for my place of origin. Then, without asking me anything or pointing to anything I have said or done, they assume the worst of me. This gets as old as listening to people who presume bad things about blacks, or women, or men, just because they are who they are or have come from where they come from.

    I also appreciate the fact you told the story about the white person who ‘disinvited’ you. Just so you know, there has been a lot of discrimination in certain churches–usually done against the poor regardless of color, yet sometimes done based on race like you said. I know they will ‘disinvite’ or ignore poor people and it has been done to me or people I know too–just not based on skin color. I believe they do this on the side and very slyly, because if they did it more publicly or in front of other people, people might confront them for it. After all, people do things in secret on purpose. I imagine racists and other people who like to reject people are doing this stuff secretly because they know there will be white people like myself and others who might call them out for it. Of course, I realize they have probably driven away those white people too. If it comes directly from a racist pastor or leader, then anyone who does not agree with them is probably driven away too.

    Finally, I hope you will reconsider your challenge against white people over whether they have enough black people at their public parties, such as weddings. I know this may be difficult for people to believe, yet some white people have attempted to make friends with black people, only to be rebuffed. My kindergarten and first grade children came inside crying one day. They did not understand why a young black boy was told not to hang out with them at the bus stop. They said this nice young boy was told by his grandmother not to hang out with them, because they were white. They had never heard the n- word and did not know what racism is. Sadly, I had to explain to them, then. We had just moved to the area not too long ago so I had hoped this was a one off incident. It wasn’t. I also gave out invitations to birthday parties to anyone they wanted to invite. Since none of the parents knew each other yet in first through fifth grade, these parties were at public places, and not at my house. Free pizza, free rides, a free trip to the zoo or whatever. After a few years, I finally noticed that no black child–ever–attended any of the parties given for all three of my children. Then I remembered that grandmother, and knew more thoroughly what the past racism did. We had moved to an area of the country where it was presumed all white people were and always would be racists. So, except for at my workplace, where I was told by the people of other races there that they enjoyed working with me because I was clearly not a racist, I found black people would not have anything to do with me or my white kids. So, I just ask you to remember that sometimes white people cannot cross those barriers either, and it may depend on things out of their control.

    • Maggie Worth

      I take your last point, to an extent. At my last party there did happen to be only one Black woman– but only because the other half dozen who’d been invited happened to have other commitments. The fact is that, at some of my parties there may be zero people of color and at some there may be an even split, all depending on who’s around. What there won’t be is the same one “Black friend” at every single event. That said, I read Nicki’s statement not so much as “hey you white person, why do you only have one Black friend?” (Although, yeah, that’s a thing too.) I read it as just as much a comment on the systemic underlying culture of racism and history of segregation that has created a society in which people even think about race as a reason to gravitate towards or away from another person – and in which it’s incredibly easy for a white suburban woman like me to operate in an entirely white circle without any intention of so doing. Kind of like the statement about not reading books by Asian authors. There’s a vast difference between “I don’t happen to have read any books by Asian authors” and “I don’t read books by Asian authors.” The former is more about our deficiencies as a culture. The second is simply racism.

      • Teri Lee Earl

        I understand what you are saying. I have read other articles written by people other than Nikki, and there is that “hey you white person, why do you only have one Black friend?” challenge. Yet the truth is, people tend to segregate themselves without thinking. When people do not trust white people not to be racist, this is usually understood to be based on their own bad experiences. This is totally understandable.If it is based on what their parents or grandparents said to them, or their parents protecting them from someone because they are afraid they might experience it–Well that’s just sad. Everyone has got to do their part to stop it.

        p.s. I am one of those odd people who remembers my childhood well, so I have watched or directly experienced far worse than what was in my first post. It was clear when these things were based on people’s skin color. In my experience, racist bullies usually tip their hand, even if in private or one on one, when they think nobody is looking or will tell about it . Some things have (thankfully) changes and some things have not. That’s why I appreciate Nikki’s report on that church who disinvited her. When we white people do not hear about these things, we might assume there is less racism than there still is. If I had overheard that nonsense, or been in that church, that church lady would not have liked to hear from me. LOL

  • ” “You know there are a lot of other nice churches in Decatur.””

    I’m just disgusted. I just can’t even.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      You know those people when you see them. And better yet, you know everyone is not like that. Thanks for stopping by, Krystyn! Loved your commentary on the Inside Out movie.

      • Kimberly Phillips Adkins

        but Decatur is supposed to be wall to wall open minded folks. at least that is what people try to tell me. anywhere outside of the perimeter is filled with hillbillies and racists… that’s another point those same people try to tell me. live life and don’t be an a**hole. love your article

  • John Johnson

    We’d love to have your at our Church! 11:00 Service, Briarlake Baptist Church,3715 Lavista Rd, Decatur GA 30033.

  • Nicki Salcedo

    Author’s note: I never let people get between me and God. The end. I do not get discouraged. My life is filled with so many good people every day. Especially the Bubbas and the men asking me for directions to the strip club (references to other columns if you want to read more). Very next church we visited, I was accosted by another older lady who put her arm around me and said, “You are joining this church!” Pastor took us to brunch the next Sunday. Someone brought us cookies that week. In Decatur. That’s were we’ve been since. I love the offers to visit church. I am always open to invitations. I love religious ceremonies if you want to invite me to any tradition, I am honored to attend. If there is food, I eat all the food. If there is dancing. I dance. I appreciate all of the opinions and concerns and disagreements. I will listen. I will believe you. Happy reading.

    • Dea

      I loved your article. I am usually the only brown been wherever I vo. I’ve learned to be stoic about it. Hpayy that you never gave up. White American liberal racists are the very worst. Austin Texas where I live is crawling with them. I find them to be the creepiest of them all. I have come to the decision that it is easiest for me if I focus on my relationships with friends from other countries. My husband is Italian and so are my step kids. My friends are mostly American people.of color European, African, Asian, south and central American, Canadian and middle eastern. I find them to be stimulating, curious, intelligent and fun. I am not invisible to them, they don’t treat me as though I were a problem, I don’t have to comfort them or reassure them. They don’t just want to talk about race with them. To them I am muli- faceted and complex. Not one dimensional. I am not a spokesperson for all black people for them. They are never patronizing nor condescending. It is never draining or tiring to be with them. All of the reasons I wrote above is why I don’t have many white American friends. My friends are not afflicted with that peculiar American disease. It’s just easier for me to be friends with people who accept me and that I don’t have to constantly explain myself to. I am not a racist nor prejudiced. I am just less patient as I’ve gotten older.

      • Kiero

        Possibly the exact opposite of the spirit of Nicki’s post.

  • Laura Ellen Jones

    *Sigh.* I am not sure why I feel compelled to respond to Bill Jones, but I do – so here goes. Racism is imbedded in the infrastructure of America, period. And even though the concept of race is an absurdly human creation, the absurdity certainly does not preclude the reality. It is true that this nation has made surface-level progress in confronting racism; the fact that we are having this (dialogue?) is evidence of small victories. But true progress can only occur when we acknowledge that racism is very real, when we concede that it is indeed part of the brick and mortar of our American institutions, and when we commit ourselves to taking action which goes beyond the symbolic – removing Confederate Flags and renaming highways or airports – to confront the reality of the systemic inequality that is endemic to this nation.

    This acknowledgement, concession, and commitment does not mean that white people are being asked to “confess” to being racist, but it does mean that we (meaning people of all races) should all reflect on the assumptions we make and the stereotypes we hold about people who are different from us. It does not mean that white people are being asked to profess guilt for an unquestionably complex problem, but it does mean that we should all think about the contributions we can make toward reaching resolution. And it does not mean that white people are being asked to take inventory of the number of “friends of color?” that are in their contact list but It does mean perhaps periodically we should all take a moment to deconstruct our contact lists – to analyze our social circles by taking note of who is missing rather than who is present.

    I am encouraged that these arguments are popping up on threads like this all over the country. People are writing and talking and tweeting with unabashed candidness. These dialogues are uncomfortable to say the least, and the polarity that exists in this particular dialogue is startling, scary. But rather then insisting that we aren’t a part of the problem, or insisting that the problem doesn’t exist, let’s think about what we can do to be part of the solution. We can all do a little bit more to promote equality from the foundation of this country on up, of this I am sure.

  • Shelly

    This was a great article and I want to take a minute to say race issues cover a wide range of races not just one. As we grow older we realize that it has to do with upbringing. If you were raised to believe that a certain race doesn’t like you then you assume all that race doesn’t like you which puts up a road block that has to come down. I was raised to believe all people are good until they aren’t so i either like you or don’t because of who you are. I worked with a woman who was very racist and it was due to hurt by a few that she couldn’t see the good in others. I did experience what could of been racist actions and it was from an older woman who looked just as uncomfortable as the woman I worked with. Makes you wonder if there was a bad experience for her too. I hope people can stop attacking and start looking at themselves to see how they can change how they treat others. There is no excuse for someone not welcoming you into God’s church unless God wasn’t there!

  • Ellen Allard

    Thank you Nicki. I was so moved by your words. We all need to do the work, the love, the respect. It goes deep and wide. I needed to read this today.

  • Ted Hatfield

    Nicki Salcedo, you are as courageous as you are intelligent. Thank you for having the guts to state what should be obvious but, for some stupid reason, isn’t. Good on ya, young lady!

  • Trisha Schmidt

    Growing up in Chicago so many years ago has given me a bit different perspective on the subject of racism. First memories are of ethnic conflicts, not racial, feelings left over from the “old country” and from WWII (DP’s). Then, as black people moved into formerly all-White neighborhoods, racism began in earnest. However, it’s my observation that commercial and political considerations fueled many of the problems then (see “redlining”), and to a lesser extent, do so now. I wonder how many of us are aware of being used by others for political or monetary gain? Individuals have a responsibility for actions undeniably wrong (see the church lady), but it’s my hope that someday, we will begin to understand just how prevalent manipulation by powerful groups are in affecting what we think of as personal opinions or decisions. Next time you observe a group professing to protest or champion a particular cause or some other political action, think about what the ORGANIZERS have to gain or loose! Don’t think that because it sounds good, it is good, or it does good!

  • Clay

    Mark Twain was so, so very right: Nothin’ breaks down prejudice like travel. There’s so much to be saddened by in our country – the simple, small prejudices – pointed there or here – created because people decide to live in their “comfort zone” of instilled lies about others with different skin color or eye shape – whatever it may be. True freedom lives in walking beside others who are different than the self and accepting them as they are – red, yellow, black or white.

  • maggy

    I acknowledge your feelings and I feel badly that you have had these experiences. It seems you have learned from them and that your journey in life has given you the opportunity to voice your opinion to a large audience. I do feel however that you lump all white people into a certain mindset and I find it racist. My children went to schools where the student population was very diverse. We lived in a diverse neighborhood. I felt it was good for my family. I’d also like to say that I have been in African American, African, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Mediterranean restaurants where I have been the only Caucasian person. Racism is a 2 way street or 3 or 4 way street depending on where you are. And in many larger cities it is not only a matter of race but also of nationality. The way to end racism is to treat everyone equally. PERIOD. I have felt the sting of racism many times and I can feel a bit of it when I read your article. For every thoughtless privileged roommate in college, there are people that have struggled and feel empathy for others. You mention Jewish people…most that I know stick together. They support one another…is that racist? I was a bit surprised that you mentioned a wedding… Honestly, in these days of tough economy if you aren’t a relative or a BFF you often don’t get invited at all because it is just too expensive… so being invited no matter what your race should be an honor. And the subtle racism you are complaining about is definitely there but often it can be that some people just don’t like us no matter what color we are. Very often we can bring a certain energy to an encounter that encourages anticipated behaviors. I disagree that the subtle racism you describe is more dangerous as the hatred that is often conveyed by the display of the confederate flag. That conflict was horrible – to glorify it in any way is outrageous. Many people lost their lives to keep the south from continuing down that path. More people died in that conflict than all other US wars combined. Not one person in this country went untouched by that war. I’d like for you to go back in time to tell the starving family of a dead or severely wounded union soldier that you were offended by being the only person of color in a restaurant. I believe in free speech. If someone wants to display that flag I respect their right to but I also reserve my right to say they are promoting oppression and hatred. I respect your right to your opinion even though I feel you have a lot to learn and hopefully many wonderful years ahead to expand your horizons.

    • underscorex

      White people lecturing people of other races on what racism is actually about never ceases to astound me.

      When there’s a systematic government movement to deny whites the right to vote? When whites are three times more likely to be arrested for a crime that whites and blacks commit equally? When the government literally uses white people as guinea pigs for diseases and chemical warfare? Then you can lecture black people on racism.

      (And every single one of those is documented and verifiable – Jim Crow, marijuana possession, the Tuskeegee Syphillis program)

      • maggy

        I’m not lecturing. I am telling her that I feel that her article is racist. You won’t meet anyone more supportive of teaching children, both black and white about civil rights history than me. I donate a lot of my time toward that education online. None of the things you just mentioned happened to her. She was in a nice restaurant, she was the only person of color at a wedding. Someone was unkind in a church. Her experiences are nothing like those that you mention. It isn’t always about race and that is the root of the problem. Some people are just jerks… doesn’t mean all of them are. And when you get a minute you might want to do a little history research. White women were also denied the right to vote.

  • Randy Graves

    I was born & raised in Appalachia & am so thankful that I was raised by good parents who taught me that there are only 2 kinds of people on this earth – those of goodwill & those who are not. I’ve made friends from all over the planet,all races & religions & would’ve missed out on knowing some wonderful people if I lived in a bubble. Wickedness lives everywhere. It’s up to those of goodwill to keep on keeping on!

  • RDD1952

    Very interesting article. I have been thinking about how well the Charleston citizens, black, white, Indian, Hispanic, etc. all came together to assure that the race war the shooter wanted to start never came to be.

    Or did it? Now, only days after the event and before all the victims have been laid to rest, we have a nationwide battle going on over whether a flag should go or stay. Did the shooter actually get what he wanted – blacks and whites against each other over a “symbol”?

    • underscorex

      Not this white person. Take it down.

  • OakhurstRez

    Great insight Nicki. You get it. This whole issue has nothing to do with guns or flags. The kid was so misguided and disturbed and we cannot legislate what ever hate he has towards someone. What we do have as a country is compassion and support. The victims haven’t even been buried and politicians and spindoctors have already developed their narrative, finding a way to capitalize on tragedy. The part that bothers me the most is the deluded logic people exhibit.

  • Patrick Garrison

    The short answer is that the exclusion experienced isn’t against anyone, per se, but rather for the simple matter that people in general feel more comfortable around people like themselves. Ironically, the Charleston shooting only reminds us that religion is probably one of the most discriminatory places in America. If a white church is going to be using classical European music as their basis of worship, many black people would feel that such a service would be as dead as a tomb, conversely when one can hear the worship coming from a black church a block away, great to feel the Spirit moving, but the music and style are way too brash for those of the classical European set. God must shake His head in wonder sometimes. No quick or easy answers, that’s for sure.

    • Dea

      I am African American and I love classical music. We are not a monolithic block

  • Stephen Williams

    Thank you for this. I am a white male from Alabama. I was taught by my parents that everybody is the same in Gods eyes. I have had friends in school that were black. I was not very close to them because there was always an uncomfortable feeling about me being white. Learning from the media, other kids, other parents, teachers of cultural history that being white means I was apart of the racist problem. All I wanted to do was have friends and enjoy my childhood but the stress of not knowing how to fit in kept me from having any true best friends. Now that I am a grown man I have learned not to be afraid of who I am. I would say I am racist , but I don’t feel that me being white makes me better than any other race. I feel segregated by hate from all races , because me being white makes me a target. Really to tell the truth I don’t have time to be racist because I am to busy trying to love my neighbor as myself and love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind and what is left of my strength.

  • Leland Baugus

    I really loved the article. I don’t discount anything you said. Racism is still out there, probably passed down by parents with a chip of some kind or from their parents. I would like to think things are slowlygetting better even with pitfalls and race baiters. I know a couple of White/Black married couples personally, and several white/Hispanic couples (probably because both sides of my wife’s family are from Mexico). I have some pretty good looking kids but my white/black married friends
    kids are nothing short of supermodels. LOL!

    Oh and I will use Black and White if that is okay? I have never been a fan of the term African American. I am not Irish American and we are all Americans. That might be some of the cause of the division in this country. Just a thought. Unless of course you personally came from Africa and became an American citizen. However, that is not perfect either. If you are white from South Africa and become
    an American then are you still an African American!? Okay enough of that. My brain hurts. 🙂

    Anyway, what I wanted to say was that sometimes and I am sure not as often but it works the other way too. Before me and my wife met I was in the military and I met and dated a very beautiful and sweet young black woman in VA. Things were fine and I asked her to spend a Saturday with me. She said she
    couldn’t that see had a family picnic to go to. Being a poor Airman she must have seen my excited look at possibly getting free homemade food so she reluctantly invited me and later I understood why. Pretty much as soon as I stepped
    out of my car at the park I felt unwelcome, by some not all. I did overhear one of here aunts say to her loader than she needed too I think “I think you played with white dolls too much”. Her aunt smiled and just laughed at herself for being funny and my girlfriend and I smiled but I didn’t laugh. One of her brothers seemed to have an issue with me but it could have been because I was dating his sister but I have to say I don’t think that was it because her other two brothers and I got along
    fine and I spent the rest of the picnic with them.

    They mainly had fried chicken and sides (yes, I know… stereotype
    but that is what they had) and after eating enough for 3 people my girlfriends
    grandma told her. “For a white boy, he can eat some chicken”. I didn’t take offense to that because she was right on both counts. 🙂

    I received orders to move to a new base in LA and her whole
    family was there in VA so we decided to try to keep in touch but I moved to far
    away and we didn’t.

    I don’t want to diminish the struggles of Blacks in America. Just saying that racism can come from many sides and it is something that through time, education, simple
    exposure and most important GOD, we can overcome it. 🙂

    Have a blessed day!

  • Willena

    Hey, Nicki, this is a great statement. I’m posting a link on FB.

  • Jordan Ashleigh White

    You are a beautiful person. I was raised as a military child and lived overseas and other parts of the county. I wish everyone had that same opportunity because you have the chance to be around so many ethnicities and cultures that you are accepting of everyone.

  • Lisa Hatfield

    Thank you for posting this. It is so very true. When I was in 9th grade back in 1980 my school district in Florida had forced integration of schools, where they would ship black kids to white schools and white kids to black schools. I had to ride past 2 other high schools to a black high school. The school was named after a black woman who wanted the school to be black. She demanded her first name be dropped from the school because of this. I was not wanted at that school, the girls hated me and I was assaulted twice by two different girls, for what reason I never knew, other than I was a white blonde hair girl who happened to have a large butt, for a white girl that is. I was also sexually harassed at that school by black boys grabbing my butt and my crotch area. I definitely know what racism feels like. There were only 20% of white kids in that school, so I was the minority. I started skipping school and the next year my mother got a job at a new high school in a rich white neighborhood..and guess what, there were only 3 black kids in my graduating class. Yeah money talks and definitely divides. Because I didn’t live in that rich neighborhood and started a job that year, I wasn’t really close with anybody in that school. I didn’t fit in. God does unite. If you are ever in Gatlinburg you would enjoy our church. We get a lot of visitors that come whenever they are in town. I can’t know what your experiences have been and I have heard older people say derogatory things and it hurts my heart.

  • Chris

    I think that Stanford is actually a really perfect example of the dynamic that you are talking about. an “elite” university that prides itself on diversity and inclusion to the extent that most of the students there, and the white students like your roommate in particular, believe that they are in an environment that is the epitome of multiculturalism. unfortunately the reality is that while there may be some degree of structural diversity, the microaggressions and subtle everyday racism are so strong and pervasive, making the university that much more isolating for students of color. thank you for your work!

  • Kalvin

    I think this article is extremely well written. The problem nowadays isn’t so much “overt” racism as it is “secret/subconscious/concealed” racism as the author points out. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to remove hurt symbols such as the confederate battle flag (note: I’m white and do like that flag for it’s history during the Civil War but the fact of the matter is that its resurgence in modern society came in the 1950s during the civil rights movement as a hate symbol — so I am totally fine with removing it because all too often it is associate with it). But that being said combating concealed racism is next to impossible because popular media, social media, ectc simply doesn’t care. They only care about pictures, trendy stories, etc. Anything of worth cannot maintain the attention of the brain dead american public.

    The only thing I disagree with is when the author notes not having friends of different races or liking certain foods as a sign of “racism”. People tend to be around those they are like. Most indians I know essentially are around almost only indian people. Does that make them racist? Many black people I know have acquaintances who are white but no real “friend”. Does that make those black people racist? We shouldn’t judge people so needlessly as that does nothing to make progress. Anyone could simply come up with any number or reasons why a person is “racist” without actually knowing that person. Don’t be so quick to judge as that author makes it seem at times.

  • Chris

    I think that Stanford is actually a really perfect example of the dynamic that you are talking about. an “elite” university that prides itself on diversity and inclusion to the extent that most of the students there, and the white students like your roommate in particular, believe that they are in an environment that is the epitome of multiculturalism. unfortunately the reality is that while there may be some degree of structural diversity, the microaggressions and subtle everyday racism are so strong and pervasive, making the university that much more isolating for students of color. thank you for your work!

  • Kiero

    Great article, thanks Nicki. I feel like there are various voices suggesting racism is something we need to “raise the level of conversation on”, which I agree! But the other side of the coin is that people are being browbeaten and tarred and feathered when they reveal any racism or bias – the Duck Dynasty guys, Atlanta Hawks GM, Clippers owner, or much lower-profile forms in our daily lives. I just don’t see any dialogue happening anytime soon as long as racism is identified as almost a mental disease or an infection at which people lose their assets, their jobs, or their ability to function in public anymore. Nicki talks about racism in a much more nuanced way, like it can creep into your life slowly like pride, or self-centeredness, or bitterness. I love her challenges – whose at your wedding?, your parties?, your workplace?. If we all realized we’re somewhat biased – including racially – I think our society would be able to take those steps meaningfully. Right now, we’re a nation in denial because the political elite are waiting to behead anybody who doesn’t talk in a code of diversity that acts like we’re “cured”. We color our Facebook profile with a rainbow, or we forward an article about police in Baltimore, but we’re just greenwashing our personal brand and foregoing the harder more meaningful work of true interracial friendship and community.

Receive the Daily Email DIgest

* = required field