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I thought I said goodbye to racism when I left my KKK-riddled hometown — I was wrong

After all the carnage that’s taken place over the past week, it seems like a repeat of acts, actions and reactions that have been occurring since the beginning of time. I’ve seen memes that say all the things that are happening now have always happened — it’s just that we have video proof now. It’s true. The level of bigoted hatred that we’ve seen over the past week and the past months (and dare I say the past few years) is nothing new. We just have visuals now.

More: If #BlackLivesMatter, we have to stop supporting racist politicians

I grew up with the scars of a racist town

I was raised in the little town of Sarepta, Louisiana. Racism was and is blatant here. I’ve often told the story of how my kindergarten teacher (who would also be my second-grade teacher) was one of the most racist people I’ve ever known. I’ve told the story how my fourth-grade teacher never took into consideration that I had vision problems when I mispronounced the word “come” as “cone,” but instead announced to the entire class, “They often mispronounce words because that’s what they hear at home,” after she corrected me.

I’ve told the story of how one of my eighth-grade teachers read Tom Sawyer out loud to the class, but not before looking me square in the eye and saying, “I’m going to read it the way it’s written. Just like it’s written.” I heard the word “n*****” more during that class period than I had heard in a full lifetime. I didn’t know to tell one of my black teachers. I don’t know why — I just didn’t. I told my mom and she was furious. I know she contacted the principal, but I don’t remember the outcome.

I was called a jungle bunny — a pretty one, but I was called a jungle bunny nonetheless. My mom never allowed me to participate in any extracurricular activities except band, and even with that, she didn’t let me travel with them. She was afraid. She should have been. One of the KKK leaders in this town lived just up the road from us. We never had any real problems with them because my dad, uncles and the rest of the black men weren’t having it.

As there are in many country towns, there are back roads. Taking them shaves a few minutes off any drive because for the most part, the posted speed limits are ignored. Mama never wanted me to take them, though. She always said, “So much stuff happened on them back roads.” She didn’t go into detail until I was older, but eventually she told me that there had been many hangings in the woods off those back roads.

More: My white privilege is complicit in Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s deaths

I vowed that once I was able to leave here, I would do so and never come back. I left in 1989, never had a desire to return, but did in 2013 after my divorce. This is home. I love being around my folks, but I don’t want to stay here, and I’m not going to.

I fear the racism my children are living through

I have a 20-year-old son. God willing, he will be 21 on July 26. As I type this, I am on pins and needles because he’s driving in from Dallas. Ironically, he had driven to Dallas the day the officers were murdered. He had gone to hang out with his friends. I was already nervous because of the slaughters of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, but I refuse to stifle my son’s life because there are idiots on both sides of the law.

Since all the carnage of the last week unfolded, I’ve unfriended some folks online and in real life. I’m not here to promote one person’s life over another. Know that I fully support Black Lives Matter, but that does not mean I am against law enforcement. My family is filled with BOTH. I love them equally. No one is more valuable than the next person. I don’t want to see black men killed, and I don’t want to see police officers killed. I want all this nonsense to stop. I want people like Donald Trump to crawl back into the racist hole they call home and to stop fanning the flames. On the other hand, Trump’s presence has allowed the hidden racists to reveal themselves. Thanks for that, I guess.

We all need each other. We can’t live without each other. Get over your fear of persons of other races. Get over stereotyping and categorizing people. Stop. Just stop.

More: Imagine if police got as much training on respect as black children do

This was originally published on BlogHer

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