*Note* This post contains
the use of a racial slur. I do not encourage its use, and I apologize if any
reader finds themselves triggered by its presence in this post.
For those of you who are
not aware, I have spent the last four years working to attain a bachelor’s
degree, and I finally reached that goal at the beginning of May! I had no doubt
I would graduate, but I wondered how my perspective on my own life and my
reaction towards our society would shift. I was riding on a high after four
long years, so I decided to treat myself. A few weeks after getting my degree,
I decided to treat myself to a nice grilled cheese from a small place in
Naperville. I don’t think I’ve ever went into detail about my obsession with
grilled cheese, but goddamn are they good. It was a nice, breezy evening, and I
was walking towards the Riverwalk, grilled cheese in hand. I was thinking about
graduate school programs and reading about one on my phone as I was walking.
The streets weren’t very busy, and everything was calm. I stopped at an
intersection, put away my phone, and began to cross the street. There was one
car waiting at the stop sign. It was a small red Mini-Cooper. I thought nothing
of it as I walked, but as I neared he end of the street, the voice of a man belted
from the small car.
“Learn to walk faster
you fucking spic!”
As I began to turn
around, the car quickly sped off, leaving me in a state of anger and confusion.
I have been called a lot of things throughout my life. Unfortunately, racism in
the United States is profitable, and when white people make up the majority of
the population, it is rarely ever addressed. However, this encounter hurt a
little more than all the others. I was fuming, but I did not know what to do. I
didn’t see the mans face, and I didn’t get the car’s plate number. I felt
powerless. In past experiences I was able to yell something back at least, but
this was different. I was left alone. After quickly realizing the reality of
the situation, I began to walk back to my car, grilled cheese in hand. The sandwich
was delicious, but I haven’t gone back since.
There are a few things I
always assumed were going to be constant in my life. The first was the drive to
learn new things, and the second was the level of dedication I hold to my
community and to the future. If you are a longtime reader of this blog, you’ve
seen how quickly perspectives and art can change over the years. I don’t think
I’m the first self-proclaimed artist to say that. However, not all things
change. The things fought against 100 years ago are still in our homes today.
The more I talk to new people and get a taste of what their life is like, the
more I see that their problems are the same problems that have penetrated the
soul of the United States throughout its history. Brothers and sisters are
still starving, the poor are suppressed, and white power surges in nearly every
administrative branch of our society. We make our baby steps towards progress,
and we make our baby steps away from it. Some things never change.