Living in suburban, Midwestern Ohio has proved to be challenging at some points; sometimes the lack of things to do will get to each nerve of boredom, and sometimes certain things will hit a deeper nerve. You never expect to have acquaintances and people you know share statements about having racist grandparents. While it does not come as a surprise to me, it deepens a wound I had not always known existed. We grow up adoring our grandparents, thinking they could do no wrong and help us change the world for the better. But what happens when their deeply rooted views are discriminatory and hurtful?
It is 2018, and I am extremely used to hearing comments like "well my grandpa said a couple things that came off very racist" or "well.. you know how my grandma gets" in response to justify a racist statement. I used to laugh it off, seemingly unnerved by these very offensive things that I would hear from those around me.
The reality is, I am in no place to judge the people I know simply for having relatives that make such offensive remarks. But just because I cannot blame you for being "guilty by association" does not mean that those sentiments do not strike a deeper chord within me, one that recently came to my attention, one that showed me how deeply those words hurt to hear.
Not only does it make me remember each interaction I had with your grandparents, but I cannot help but wonder what they think of me, and you, when you "bring that black girl around." I can just hear that phrase echoing in my head, and I am sure that that statement has crossed just a few minds. And let me tell you, this realization has been a hard one to come by as it takes a personal toll on your emotions and self esteem. The reality is that there is nothing wrong with my blackness or my cultural experiences; the problem lies within their ignorance and intolerance.
Although I recognize that some of these people may not be very well educated (or educated at all) or have been brought up like this and refuse to change their ways, it is still a bitter pill to swallow as a biracial young woman who cannot change the melanin present in my skin tone. It is a hard pill to swallow as I hear the stories of friends and acquaintances depict how the conversations with their grandparents become a life lesson moment, as they try to explain that a generalization about an entire race is unnecessary and unfair.
I hate that people my age have to defend the fact that they have friends of color, explaining that not all black people are lazy. Or thugs. Or uneducated. Or criminals. I hate that. I hate that parts of an entire generation still do not see that their viewpoint may actually be destructive and be highly discriminatory. I hate hearing stories about intolerant grandparents while having to sit back and act like it does not affect me or that it is okay.
Just because they live(d) in a world that is black and white does not mean we have to.