Real Life Issues

Broken Black Woman

In full disclosure, I have a few things to share before I go any further. Let me preface this with I fully support my local law enforcement. In fact, I work for Dallas Police Department – in a civilian position and hold a Masters in Criminology. *Racial slurs are used in this post.

 

I live in Dallas, Texas – which is approximately 35-40 minutes south of McKinney, Texas. If you have been on the Internet at any time over the last few days, I can guarantee you may have watched the video, skimmed through comments on various sources, or had at least 2 people share their thoughts on the Craig Ranch Pool Party.

The first time I watched the video, I didn’t make it past the officer grabbing the young girl by her braids without a flood of emotions rushing over me. There were tears. I needed to be comforted and told that its ok.

The second time I stoically watched every single move of the video. From the teens running around, the various police officers responding to the situation, the kind voice of the teenager capturing every moment on his smartphone, and the bystanders wandering around – I watched. This second viewing was my time to make sense of the entire situation and begin asking the questions. What went wrong? Where did it go wrong? Where are the adults in this situation?

The third time was the viewing that set me on the path that leads here. I was shocked, confused, and angry. Angry that I repeatedly read from a number of different individuals on my personal Facebook that we should wait to hear “both sides of the story” or “these teens shouldn’t have been mouthing off.”

You get the idea.

Stay with me here, I promise I’m going to make a point.

My outrage doesn’t stem from the fact that residents in a community wanted an out of control pool party to end. I get that, I really do. I don’t even like it when the residents from a nearby apartment complex take up the parking in front of my house. The outrage I have stems from the police methods that are used within this video. I strongly advise you reviewing the video again and watch closely as one officer calmly discusses the situation with a few of the teens. Shortly after this brief interaction on the video, we are reintroduced to our barrel rolling volatile officer, screaming his profanities and beating his chest to make a point. All of the cursing and complaining about running around in the heat with 30lbs of gear on was too much. This is your profession and you should present yourself as a professional.

Then his actions towards the young girl who was mouthing off occurred and I lost it.

The pain was raw and real.

And I realized that I had very few allies in my corner who understood the feelings elicited from this portion of the video.

My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with the proud supporters of this brave officer and the actions he took against a 15 year old girl. Another argument concluded that this young girl shouldn’t have been mouthing off to the police officer to force him to reach that point. Oh and my absolute favorite, this isn’t about race.

It’s never about race, because in all honesty we are too afraid to discuss the differences that we all have. We still are under this notion that segregation has happened and we elected our first Black President. Educate yourself because I can promise you that you wouldn’t last half a day in my shoes as an African American woman. Every day I can name at least one racist related act that occurs to me. This happens on a daily basis.

I am an example of a broken black woman.

Broken Black Woman

It started by being called a nigger at 7 years old and told you can’t pretend to be Mary Kate or Ashley Olsen because your skin complexion is too dark.

It continued when people referred to my proper speaking habits being unusual.

Then the experience escalated….

Have you ever experienced being the one person singled out of a group of people walking out of an American Eagle because a belt was stolen? What about being forced to empty your purse on the mall floor to prove your innocence? By the way, I had to humble myself and pick up all the contents amidst the laughs from the white teenagers who walked out before me.

Have you ever experienced being chased by a couple of guys in a truck as you walked to a night class? Let’s not forget them calling you a nigger and throwing empty beer bottles at you! Campus police couldn’t believe that something so foul happened to me after I sprinted all the way to my class out of breath and tears of terror streaming down my face.

I spent a majority of my last few days removing the toxic people from my newsfeed. If you can’t understand the bigger issue here, then I have no need for you. What I do have is vital information to help you understand why this shouldn’t just be important to me.

If any of this was moving, please I urge you to take the time to view these sources that speak volumes to why this does matter.

A shame for McKinney and for all of us (via Dallas Morning News)

THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE (via Austin Channing)

How White People Should Respond To McKinney/Racial Discrimination Issues (via The Nive Nulls)

A Former Cop On What Went Wrong In McKinney (via Talking Points Memo)

This is it. If these articles don’t spark even a simple thank you or the initial question of “what is your life like?” I don’t see this being a space that you want to visit. If you are a Facebook friend, I would recommend that you delete me. Eventually it will come down to me removing you (if I haven’t done so already).

All of these years, I’ve allowed myself to make excuses for this type of behavior. I always would say “you’ll never understand,” but that can’t be an excuse anymore because never will a majority of my friends understand what it’s like to be a minority in America.

As broken as I have been, Maya Angelou stated it best –

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

26 Comments

  • Reply Jacque

    I was also called a nigger by a group of men, well let’s call them boys, when walking from the library at SMU in the evening. Obviously I feel your pain :(. But anyway, this was a well written response Sevi! It covers everything I felt as well. And it’s definitely hurtful when people you thought were cool with you really aren’t 🙁

    June 10, 2015 at 8:21 am
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Jacque, it pains me that so many of us have these stories to share with each other. This shouldn’t be our normal.

      I can only hope that one day when we are raising a generation they don’t have to swap stories as disheartening as this. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I really appreciate it.

      June 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm
  • Reply Kristi

    This breaks my heart Sevi. You are so right – as a white woman, I will never understand these situations I don’t even pretend to have a clue about the lasting damage these outrageous instances would cause me. But know that you do not walk alone. I proudly stand next to you as a friend & someone who loves you. My heart breaks for those who live through & in these situations. And I pray that I can someday raise children who ooze with empathy for their friends who are different than them if only by the color of their skin.

    June 10, 2015 at 10:31 am
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      I had to wait to get home in order to read your comment because I didn’t want to cry at work. Words cannot describe how much I need more people like you in my life. That don’t try to rationalize this type of behavior, but see this as an opportunity to educate future generations about this. I am proud to have you as a friend.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read this. <3

      June 10, 2015 at 5:39 pm
  • Reply Katrina

    Thank you for writing such an authentic post and opening up about an experience that was obviously painful for you.

    I have been accused twice in my life of stealing items and reflecting back, I’m sure it was because of my skin color. I was also called a nigger and a black b**ch, both occurrences happening while I was in college. Both times it stung and the only way I can only call both experiences surreal.

    Continue to eliminate negative people from your life, educate those who remain and “rise” above it all.

    June 10, 2015 at 10:46 am
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Thank you so much Katrina for sharing your experiences. Like I mentioned in my comment to Jacque, I wish this wasn’t a normal thing for us to all relate to. Being called niggers and feeling the stinging pain of knowing that people can be so cruel.

      Slowly, I’m finding peace with those that want to be in my life for the right reasons.

      June 10, 2015 at 5:58 pm
  • Reply Brandy

    I grew up in Flint, Michigan. I am a white woman and have been attacked for being white more than once. I have been refused entry for being white. I have been searched in stores (even with an infant) because I was tattooed and pierced before Miami ink existed and made it the norm. I have been called racial slurs on more occasions than I could tell you. This is only a glimpse of what I have been through.

    June 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Brandy – clearly I empathize with your experiences. I am a little confused as to what point you are trying to make. Unless your point is that the racist behavior is acceptable because it happens to white people too?

      I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced, but would have hoped going through things like that would have made you a more empathetic person.

      June 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm
    • Reply Valery Brennan

      Hi Brandy. I don’t know you but I had to comment here. Lately I haven’t had much energy to debate with people but when you come to my best friend’s space and leave a comment like this, I don’t have much choice. I’m not sure what your point was here – was it to try to relate to Sevi? I’m sorry you’ve been through some bad experiences, unfortunately people of all shapes, sizes, colors, etc are just crappy. It’s a part of life. But you seem to be missing the point. See, what happened to you sucks. But that’s it – it sucks. The things that happened to Sevi (and happen to black men, women and children every day) happen because of historical context. It’s not an accident. In case you’ve forgotten, slavery happened a mere 200 years ago (really less, but this isn’t a history lesson). A quick Google search will show you Selma, where men and women were blasted with fire hoses and attacked by dogs for trying to get basic civil rights 50 years ago. Your parents were probably alive then – that’s how recent this was. Again, sorry you dealt with some bad stuff in Flint but you’re not fighting a system that has been asking you to fail since your ancestors were ENSLAVED, torn from their home country and brought to the US to build up a country. The US is built on free labor.

      I’m a woman and you are too, so maybe this will make it a little clearer. We have to fight some pretty crappy stuff sometimes as women. When I have an experience that I know is because of systemic oppression against women (even a small one), it upsets me deeply. Not just because it hurt my feelings (which it does, and that’s valid) but it’s more upsetting because I know it’s not just me. These things happen to women everywhere because of male privilege and that freaking sucks. It’s hurtful and it’s tough to know that the problems can’t just be ignored or fixed overnight. That’s the closest thing I can relate to when it comes to systemic racism and what it feels like to be oppressed because of your skin color.

      There will always be prejudice but to try to compare your experiences to something that is systemic is selfish and does nothing to fix the racial issues that are still VERY prevalent in our country here in 2015. Not to mention the fact that you showed no empathy in your comment – you didn’t even try to relate, it’s like you wanted to devalue her personal experiences by sharing your own and this is simply not okay. You can be mad at me, you can talk mess back to me, but the truth of racism in this country is right in front of you. And my dear friend opened up and shared this with the rest of us so I don’t really know who you think you are to come in here and try to devalue what she wrote. Move along, please.

      June 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm
    • Reply Stephanie

      Oh Brandy. I really hope that you just pushed the “post comment” button too soon and didn’t actually have the chance to finish your thoughts above. What are you trying to accomplish with litany of woes you’ve experienced as a white woman? I’m an Asian American woman who has been called a gook, a chink, told to go back to China (I’m Korean) and preyed upon by men who have been taught that people who look like me are sexually submissive china dolls to be fetishized and abused.

      BUT… I’m also aware that these stereotypes and discriminatory practices continue to exist because so many people (cough, cough) are so focused only on their own experiences and the things they feel they’ve suffered, instead of concerned for others. How could I expect anyone to come to my aid when I’m being called racial slurs, if I turn away when others are in need of my help— or worse– use my experiences to DEFEND terrible actions.

      This isn’t about what you’ve experienced as a white person, or I’ve experienced as an Asian– it’s not just about what a 14 year old black girl experienced– it is what our country as a whole is experiencing as a result of YEARS of institutionalized racism, systemic oppression, and cultural hegemony. Where our fellow citizens, who deserve to be treated with dignity, are instead victimized and treated as less than human for the color of their skin or perceived socioeconomic status.

      It’s truly sad when anyone experiences racial slurs and discrimination, but what’s even sadder is that after going through those things, you don’t have the heart to speak up for someone else that needs your voice and support when they go through something comparable. I could go on, but think MLK Jr. said it better (and shorter) than I ever could — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Instead of lamenting over your own injustices, why not work to eradicate it for everyone else? #mytwocents

      June 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm
    • Reply Amanda Geraghty

      Dear Straw-Man Argument,

      This isn’t about you.

      xoxo,

      Rational white woman who recognizes her privilege.

      June 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm
  • Reply PDuke

    Great read. Thank you ma’am for your boldness! I hate those things happened to you and pray you continue to use those experiences to create much needed awareness!

    June 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on FB today. It takes boldness to elicit a change. These experiences have made me into the woman that I am today – who is strong and confident.

      June 10, 2015 at 6:10 pm
  • Reply Ginger

    Girrrrrrl you have me tearing up at work! This was beautifully written and directly portrays my feelings in ways that I never would’ve been able to explain. I am so proud of you for writing this and standing up for what you know is right! I’ll be standing right there with you!

    June 10, 2015 at 5:05 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      You were definitely a motivator in getting this post together. Thank you for your kind text messages, as we both worked through the emotions over these last few days. I cannot tell you thank you enough.

      June 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm
  • Reply Beth

    Sevi,

    You are such an inspiration. You’ve summed up my feelings exactly in this blog post. Although, I will never personally understand the struggles you’ve gone through, my girls will. It breaks my heart. Keep doing what you’re doing, because people are watching and listening! You are making a difference! I’m proud to be your friend, and am so thankful for you!

    June 10, 2015 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Beth you are an inspiration to me. What I can promise you is that I am going to work my hardest to use my voice to make this world a much better place for your girls. I don’t want them getting older and having to share experiences that someone called them this racial slur or that racial slur. I refuse for that to be the normal for your babies.

      It’s summer! Let’s get a date on the books so I can meet both of your sweet babies!

      June 10, 2015 at 6:25 pm
  • Reply Kristi Case

    Sevi,

    What a wonderfully written post! I really wanted to share my feelings with you, but I’ll be honest; I have thought about my response for a couple of hours since I have read your post. You bring up so many great points, but I know because of my background and physical appearance (white, blonde, middle class), I do have to be careful about what I say because it can be misconstrued in the wrong way.

    First of all, I think its important to let you know that I fully support you in advocating for the rights of African American individuals. In a past role, I worked closely with a very disadvantaged population. However, this disadvantage was based on socioeconomic status, rather than race or ethnicity. Or at least that’s how it was perceived by me. I often hear people speaking poorly of those “living off of the government”, but the reality was that they do not understand the struggle of people living below the poverty level. (Of course there will always be people that take advantage of the system). Many of the people were hardworking, prideful individuals who have just fell on hard times, or possibly had a hard past that put them in the situation they are in now.

    The reason I bring this up is that I feel that this is probably true to any “disadvantaged” or minority group. People are quick to judge based on preconceived stereotypes. If you are not a part of the group and have not experienced the struggle, it is hard to relate. Personally, it is hard for me to relate to the struggles of the black population, and I recognize that. I want to believe that we live in a world in which people are innately good and that racism doesn’t exist, but I know it would be a lie.

    I really want to applaud you for standing up for something you believe in. Change can happen, but it will take educated, well-spoken individuals like you who are passionate about the rights of others to facilitate the change.

    Again, I hope my words are taken in the right way, because I’m very supportive of your post and your advocacy. Keep it up and keep speaking out about your beliefs. I’m sorry for the long comment, but I wanted to share my feelings! 🙂

    June 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      I appreciate your beautifully delivered comment. It definitely adds to my post from a completely different perspective.

      Thank you so much for being supportive and understanding! I appreciated that you took the time to read this post and add your own insight to it as well.

      June 10, 2015 at 11:41 pm
  • Reply Tamara

    Awesome post Sevi! You spoke from your heart and from personal experience, no one can dimish that. Their will always be those that won’t understand but there are many that do “get it”. A perfect example are your close friends who defended you regarding this post.

    From my perspective you are a “healed” black woman. You were “cut” by ugly, racist behavior but your wound appears healed as I look at your circle of friends who don’t look like you. You have chosen to value people by the content of their character and not their skin color.

    Poud of you Sevi….you took a risk by dealing with this subject matter. Im sure great things will come from you being so transparent and genuine. Cheers to you!!!

    June 10, 2015 at 8:49 pm
    • Reply Sevi Ware

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment Tamara. My father raised me to look at people as human beings and love them for who they are. Never in my life have I ever judged anyone by the color of their skin and I don’t plan on doing it now. This was my opportunity to show that regardless of the fact that I was raised like this, many people out there were not.

      Thank you again!

      June 11, 2015 at 12:34 am
  • Reply Denise

    I know it’s not easy to expose so much about yourself in a very public space, but I want to thank you for writing this. I’m hoping this blog post can open the eyes of at least one person in realizing your point– that there is a much bigger picture here (and of course the more people that understand it, the better). I, too, have removed several people off of my feed. As a mother, I saw my kid’s (and future kid’s) face in the video… and I feared. I feared so much that I was unable to sleep that night. I feared that my kids automatically had to deal with this exact same situation. I feared that if my son decided that he needed to stand up for himself because a police officer felt he didn’t have the right to say the things he did, that he would be eating grass with 200-lb knees pressed upon his back. I feared that if my son wanted to come to a friend’s rescue because said friend was being unreasonably man-handled by someone who badly needed anger management, that a gun will be pointed his direction. That is how I saw the video, and it was painful to see that there were parents who were trying to justify what happened. It was painful to see that there were people who saw it as a man just doing his job. (It was even bothersome how the very people who thought it was forgivable for a 14-year-old boy to diddle his younger siblings deeming it as a simple “mistake” are the same ones who felt that the 14-year-old girl in the video deserved how she was treated, all for “mouthing off”) I was so disturbed and angry. I still am. I want to say that the people who say that it’s not about race are saying so because they are uncomfortable discussing the topic. I’m hoping that this blog post changes that. I hope this at least paints a picture or sheds a light on a situation that they maybe did not even realize was in existence. I personally will never know what it’s like to be in your shoes, but I am proud of you and how you are using your experiences to help pave the way for my children. Thank you for being a strong. black woman and a great voice of our generation. (I’m now crying, but I’m also hormonal) I’m so sorry for this long comment. I have been unable to find the right words to express how I was feeling but this along with the other relevant posts you’ve been sharing has been very helpful in turning my emotions into effective words (I read THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE about 5 times).

    June 11, 2015 at 12:54 am
  • Reply Addie

    This is all still new to me – I grew up as the only black girl in most of my classes, and never experienced anything of the likes that you have. A few years ago I was naïve and wondered why black people were always so angry and complaining about white people. I didn’t get it at all. Social media has opened my eyes immensely, and while I am glad to no longer be in the dark (knowing racism still exists and it happens on different levels – and its complicated and not a “black and white” “all or nothing” deep rooted issue), I am saddened by this. I still just can’t for the life of me understand why skin color can cause so much hatred. The links you provided, and this post itself are what we need – to have open discussions about it, to better understand all views, and to reach peace. I love this, Sevi. Thank you for sharing!

    June 11, 2015 at 8:33 am
    • Reply Amanda Geraghty

      People are so afraid of what they don’t know or understand, or what is different from them. I still experience this issue with my family (i.e. father) since I started dating a black man two years ago. We just moved in together. Dad is coming around.

      Change is a work in progress, and the wheel must be turned by many. But it CAN be turned. 🙂

      June 11, 2015 at 6:36 pm
  • Reply Yava

    I love this response ….and I love you …so honored to call you a friend. I always hate having to delete old school friends whenever “things like this” happens. I guess a little bit of me hopes that the kids I went to school with and enjoyed so much would be a little less ignorant than they really are ….it’s definitely eye opening

    June 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm
  • Reply Challen

    I stumbled upon your writing via a Facebook post, thank you! I’m a white woman myself, but my boyfriend is black and we have a child together. I’ve watched my boyfriend be turned down for jobs because of the color of his skin. He has worked in restaurants for over 20 years and made his way up to manager. He’s applied for jobs as a server or bartender, that he is over qualified for and to be laughed at and said they have a job for him in the kitchen. He’s actually at an interview right now for a second job as a bartender. We took 45 mins to choose his outfit. And that’s just the beginning of what he faces. Anyone that thinks I’m exaggerating…well, we have applied for the same job before. Me having little experience versus he who has 20 years experience. Guess who was offered the job? See, I’ve tried to say that hey its 2015, it’s not that bad. But it is! Just last week my 3 year old son was told he had to wait to get off the train because of his skin color. A middle aged group of men said that statement to a child, a toddler! My son can’t play at the park with a toy gun like the white boys. He is blamed by other parents at parks if a child falls, that he was being too rough, that he should know better. Meanwhile he is younger than the rest of the children. I’m not sure how to even raise my own child because he encounters situations everyday that I have never experienced in 28 years. And he’s 3, and I live in NY state. It’s supposed to be a progressive state, but it’s not. So I guess my whole point of this vent is to ask what do I do? How do I help?

    June 12, 2015 at 12:33 pm
  • Leave a Reply