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Bottom Of The Totem Pole

For many years African Americans have been portrayed as being violent, lazy, uneducated, and ignorant.  We have also been stereotyped for having the love for certain foods, such as watermelon, fried chicken, cornbread, and drinking kool aide.  Growing up, I have never took the stereotypes seriously until I graduated from high school, joined the military, and lived in several different states.  Living in several different states via the military, I experienced the way different ethnicities treat and view African Americans.  Some of my experiences include being talked down to like I have no education due to my lazy English, being constantly under surveillance while shopping at certain stores, that are not black owned, and just being talked to like I’m complete trash.  I sometimes feel as if we are at the bottom of the totem pole as far as other races.  Being put in the category of being uneducated, and violent just because the color of my skin is a hard pill to swallow at times.  It is a very sensitive subject that I take dearly to heart.

In Tanya Maria Barrientos “Se Habla Espanol“, she mentions that most of her childhood she liked being the brown girl who defied expectations.  I can relate, and feel as a African American male, who does not like some of our stereotypes, I have to defy expectations every day I step foot outside of my door.  We are not all violent, steal, uneducated, nor ignorant. There are other ethnicities that commit crimes also with little education, and are ignorant!  My experiences with other people outside of my race, I always have tried to leave a good impression, that we are not a bad race.  Sure, I do love watermelon, fried chicken, cornbread, and the taste of kool aide, but I’m not obsessed with it.  I’m a human being! And those are just foods that we all eat as human beings.

Dr. John Baugh, in “Do You Speak American” did research on language profiling, and how people are judged according to how they speak.  I for one have experienced this personally myself.  Growing up, I have often been looked at or talked to like I’m not educated just because I speak lazy English.  It has made me very uncomfortable to speak in a classroom environment or ask for help when in need.  There was also a piece in “Do You Speak American” part 1, where Asheen Brenen, and Kihilee Brenen went back to their old elementary school named Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.  While attending Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, they received little communication from their teachers, who looked at them as unteachable due to their lazy English.

Being an African American male, I have to bring my ‘A-Game’ at everything that I do.  I’m not violent, and yes I was raised in a broken home by a single mother, but that does not mean that I should be looked at differently.  Yes, many African American males that are raised in broken homes have greater chances of turning to the street life to survive.  A life of drugs, gangs, violence, and lacking education due to the way they were raise.  Growing up with no father in your life, who do you have to emulate? I grew up in that same broken home as them, but that does not make me like them.  My life has evolved around doing what my father did not do, and avoiding the life of violence, alcohol and drugs.  Our race is highlighted for all of the negative things, but none of the good things.  There are many successful African American males in this world, and ignorance is not just in the African American race, so why must we all be looked at as the bad apple of ethnicities.  There are Hispanics, Caucasians, and Asians who commit violence also.  Last time I checked the definition of African American did not mean being uneducated, violent, or ignorant, so why must we all be looked at in that negative manner.

#Doyouspeakeamerican #ThomasGouard #Africanamerican #America #Language #Stereotype #MartinLutherKingJr #DrJohnBaugh #SeHablaEspanol #MLK #TotemPole

What do you think?

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Written by Thomas Gouard

I'm a military veteran, a Direct Support Professional for adults with disabilities, and a college student pursuing a career as a substance abuse counselor. Outside of that I'm a runner, cyclist, blogger, writer, and fashion lover. I fell in love with writing during my second semester of college, and have found joy's in expressing myself with it.

11 Comments

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  1. Ah yes, you are correct Thomas. Growing up in San Diego, we get used to so many different races, that I feel we aren’ t as bad. We’ve all heard the stories of profiling and sorry to say your darker skin color are the worst being hassled. I will never know that feeling.
    The first time I encountered racism was the first time I left CA and went to Memphis for four years. I really had no idea it was that bad there. No clue. My dad was native american and we used to visit Mexico all the time when I was growing up. We did always get pulled out of the lane, searched and hassled because of his skin color, and a bunch of white kids in the back. He would always make sure he had all his paperwork in order and easy to get to. lol. It would take other families 2 hours to cross, us? 6!

    • It brings this inner fear of being discriminated against when there are not many with your ethnic background, which can cut into experiencing the goodness of where you go, and what you do. I have literally chosen my schools, and neighborhoods based off of racial makeup. That neighborhood or school may have been good, but its the overall experience of it that drives the fear of never wanting to deal with it. I’m just happy that I was raised around diversity because mentally that would be hard to overcome. I have experienced goodness with all ethnic backgrounds and know that there are a few bad apples out there.

      Mexico would be a scary experience because it is a different language, and area, especially now with all the chaos going on with the border. I’m sure some hate Americans because of what is being brought upon them.

      • A good call on the school choices, I never would of thought of that but you are right and smart in choosing that way. I try to see things from others point of view, and the way your race is treated in todays day and age are just so odd to see and hear about.
        As for Mexico, its a wonderful place. I simply love it down there. Our president is not helping with things down south for sure. Most know its him not us though. HOpefully.. I used to go down to Mexico about once a month, but havent since the wall thing. Our border patrol says a solid wall will hinder them, they like the see through fence we already have in place.

        • And with our current POTUS, behaviors are being brought out that were when America was at its worst. When I was in my early military days, they prohibited us from going because there were so many that would end up being robbed or harmed. I always had the interest to visit Mexico, but that was something that was always at the back of my head. It is heartbreaking to see what is going on to those that simply want to live a better life amongst us. I have to sometimes block, or ignore things that our POTUS is in because it brings out the anger in me.

          • POTUS, I like that! It fits. 🙂 Ah yes Meheco, I can see the military discouraging travels down south, the ones that prey on tourists, have a hay day with the military, and the rich that come down wearing all the blings. I kind of fit in, the little girls selling chicklet gum don’t even try to sell me anything. lol I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. haha. They prob think I’m homeless.
            About the POTUS, I stay away from the mainstream news, he makes me cringe. That man has lost his mind.

          • We are easy prey because most of us military guys have recently graduated from boot camp, and just want to have fun, so we are eager to spend spend spend. Sounds like a good thing that they don’t try to see you anything, lol. What makes me cringe is that he cannot relate to the poor folk like me or the ones that do not have anything period.

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