Last week we featured a reader letter sent in by Tracy Schulz. Tracy and her husband, an interracial couple, describe a terribly sad and scary incident they had while camping in Florida. You can read about it here, if you haven’t already.
Nanci Dixon, one of our readers and a frequent contributing writer, responded with the comment below. Nanci, thank you for writing, and thank you to you and Tracy for starting the conversation here.
As an interracial couple, I have been spit on in Mississippi for being with my black husband and one-year-old son at a gas station.
At the birth of our second son, the nurse came in to say we could not have a private room while on welfare. I was a corporate executive and my husband worked 20 years in a public school and owned a business. We had insurance. Good insurance.
When we go to Target, if I wander away looking at something, women clutch their purses when they see him. He is 67 years old!
In the south in particular, if staying in a hotel, I go in to register to make sure we get the room and our reservation hasn’t been “misplaced.“
In South Dakota, an RVer called management to try and get rid of the “N word” from HIS park.
A group of drunk white teenagers tried to attack our middle schooler and husband in our motorhome in the number one rated park in Wisconsin. Knowing that even defending his family, my husband being black would be at risk with the police. We packed up in the middle of the night and left. The park apologized and later put adults in security rather than high schoolers.
Prejudice exists. It is insidious and day to day, every day.
This is a post I put on Facebook after the killing of George Floyd:
I have always utilized Facebook as a rather folksy, chit-chatting media outlet and refrained from political or even controversial posts. In light of the murder of George Floyd, I can no longer remain silent. I posted this on my very dear friend’s Facebook post where he was asking people to not blame all officers for the actions of the 1%.
As the mother of two black men, it was so difficult to instruct our sons on how to respond when being questioned, pulled over or otherwise addressed by the police so as to protect them from being beaten up or killed.
Unfortunately, the 1% stopped, harassed and questioned our oldest for walking in a Minnetonka neighborhood. He was on his way home to his Minnetonka house from his Minnetonka High School. It could have been him.
Unfortunately, the 1% harassed my husband and son when their car stopped near our home while waiting for AAA. It could have been them.
Unfortunately, it was the 1% that pulled my 40-plus-year-old husband out of a south Minneapolis hardware store, threw him against the squad car mistaking him for a teenager. It could have been him crying “I can’t breath.”
It was unfortunately the 1% in Mississippi that threw my then-teenage husband to the ground and put a gun to his head accusing him of driving a white man’s tractor. Mistaken identity. It could have been him.
I grew up with the idea that the police would protect me, I could always go to them for help. I am white. My granddaughter hides and says, “I am scared, Grandma” when she sees a police officer. It is so messed up.
I have had to teach my sons to fear, not just respect. We have had to teach them how to respond when DWB, Driving While Black, because they will be stopped, and it will be, and has been, often.
I have had to teach my sons to fear, to stay alive.
As Dr. King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I do not condone the rioting and looting, it is so harmful and damaging to everyone, but I understand the anger and the frustration and the daily fear.
I understand being a mother, fearful her black children won’t make it home.
Again and again and again. It is enough.
— Nanci Dixon