A Story to Listen to. A Story to Share. #BlackLivesMatter.
Article by Thy Nguyen
Today is Juneteenth. What is this Holiday? And what is its significance? It all started on January 1st, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The Proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” However… The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves in the United States. Rather, it declared free only those slaves living in states not under Union control.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. After over two years, enslaved Texans finally found out that they had been free… marking the day that slavery ended.
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States and became a symbolic date representing African-American freedom.
Today, I am choosing to #AmplifyBlackVoices. I am going to share a story from William Adams Tate on his experiences and feelings. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s learn from each other.
William Adams Tate’s Story
I am William Adams Tate, commonly known as Tate. I identify as a straight Black American male. Growing up in Houston, TX, I felt as though I had the “worst of both worlds.” In middle school I was bullied heavily for being Black by White people, I was bullied for being chubby by Black people, and I was bullied for the sound of my voice by all people. I simply can not express the amount of times I would be called “oreo,” followed by people pouring milk on me to see if I would change skin tones. I would be asked, “Why do you sound like that? Are both your parents Black? Or have non-Black people look me dead in my eyes and say “There is no way you are Black.” “You are NOT Black ENOUGH.” “If anything, I am more Black than you.”
I wish I could go back in time with the confidence I have in myself and tell all those people that bullied me, “You know it is quite funny how all of you can sit up here and make fun of my voice. Like please enlighten me…. What is a black man’s voice supposed to sound like? Let me know and I will change my voice to best suit all the people I don’t even know but seem to have a problem with the way I pay attention in Language Arts class and enunciate my words. For all the colors of the rainbows of races that said you are “more Black than me,” do me a solid… and tell that to the cops. So they can shoot you and not me since you are of course more Black than me. Tell that to store employees so they can follow you around the store to make sure you do not steal anything instead of following me since you are way Blacker than me.”
Honestly, all of those racist remarks and microaggressions used to get to me. You can ask anyone, no one in their right mind would desire to be limited due to superficial social constructs that are determining your roles in society or being wrongly prejudged. Women still clutch at their purses when I walk past them in public, people are still quick to lock their car doors or sound the alarm when I could be a mile away on the other side of the parking lot, people still follow me around stores to make sure I am there to follow through with my initial intentions to just shop.
Looking back at that time, I felt that I was honestly all alone. I was never really close to anyone in my family, not my mother nor my brothers, never on that level. My father took a “leave of absence” if you will, or better yet, he took a break for what felt like several years from being my father while all the bullying took place. Whenever I needed someone, no one was there for me.
Only one person knows this about me, but my elementary school teacher sexually assaulted me while calling me her “Lil chocolate nugget,” when I was the only Black kid in the class. No one was there to protect me from that woman. I was all alone, helpless without a shoulder to cry on, without anyone ever telling me “it’s going to be alright,” without anyone ever listening to what I had to say because they disregarded whatever I had to say at that school. I could never tell my family that because I am still not close to them and I do not want to seem weak to them. Those were rough times in my life but I am way over that now.
All these experiences have taught me one important lesson…..to be there for someone. I take pride in myself for always being there for my friends. Whether it is a simple phone call, getting food with them, or being their designated driver, I am always there for them. The most important part being there for someone, is just to listen to them speak. Anybody could have a mask on pretending that everything is alright but behind closed doors, their world could be upside down. So for all of you that cry over first world problems or are overly sensitive, please be considerate of those around you. They could have issues that are actually impactful to their everyday life. All of you all should be in quarantine, meaning you have the free time to check up on your loved ones and friends so please reach out to them and listen!
P.S. I have seen a lot of trends this year. Some are pointless like white people tagging their 10 white friends on their Instagram stories. Those were nothing more than a “get out of being viewed as a racist” card. Like literally what do you Caucasians gain from those worthless posts? You could no longer see BLACK LIVES MATTER or George Floyd’s name on the Instagram stories because it was being drowned out by white people’s names who have never used their voice ever to speak on racism. They are just “participating” for some sort of credit so they can make themselves feel better, not actually engaging in the conversation.
The one trend of this year, that is my favorite, is that people’s racist pasts are brought up into the light for the world to see.
If my one ex-girlfriend happens upon reading this… It is quite interesting, how I gave you a handwritten apology letter for being an awful boyfriend to you. I never did receive an apology from you. Are you confused right now? Allow me to recharge that absurd racial slur you decided to toss my way…
“You are just a black f***. A black f*** with no morals.”
So hear my BLACK VOICE when I tell you this:
You can post as much as you want on your stories about black oppression.
You can share endless amounts of links to educate your fellow like-minded peers on racism.
You can donate an absurd amount of money to charities that are for my people’s forward progress…
You can never take back the things you said.
You can never hide your true self.
I was man enough to let you know I hurt you. Are you woman enough to do the same?
On all your social media stories I see you post equality for this…. and equality for that. Since I apologized to you, don’t you think I deserve one back?
P.P.S. To that one white former friend that looked me in my face this year and said, “Man Tate you are so lucky! All those ladies just want to experiment with you in college.”
Hey bro, I am sorry that they continuously enjoy testing their hypothesis of “if it’s true what they say about black people” with me.… I mean…what can I say…. I am black and I’M PROUD!
William Adams Tate