In August of 1991, I came to the USA for the first time. I was sheltered to an extant. I spent a month in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I spent the majority of my time with my uncle’s family, and I did not face any discrimination and/or racial profiling at the time. I do not recall is a better explanation. I returned to the Ivory Coast in September, and I did immigrate to the USA until three years later.
My American experience actually began in 1994. My parents enrolled me in a private catholic high school in the Winston Salem area of North Carolina. I was a minority in the school. I stood out whether I wanted to or not. I spoke and still speak with a heavy accent. Anyway, during my time in high school; I dealt with characters that I now consider racist. Some of my peer’s biases manifested via the microaggression of the movie “get out.” Other’s biases were more flagrant. I remember an individual often telling me to return to where I came from throughout my years in high school. He sought to belittle and humiliate me given the opportunity. I have not seen this individual since we graduated high school. I have seen some members of my graduating class since, but I have not seen this particular one.
In the fall of 1998, I matriculated at Belmont Abbey College, in Belmont North Carolina. Belmont Abbey College is small liberal art college affiliated with the Catholic church. Belmont is a suburb south of Charlotte. My first year there went well to an extant. I was an international student, but my immigration status changed along the way. I became a permanent resident of these United States during my junior. In Belmont Abbey, I also experienced the microaggression of the movie Get Out. Some students showed their dislike of foreigners with underhanded comments, but there was more passive aggression than active aggression. I graduated Belmont Abbey College in 2002.
In 2003, I enlisted in the US Navy. I attended basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois. I reported to my first duty station in Yokosuka, Japan. I was a crew members on the USS John S. McCain. My shipmates were as diverse as residents of a metropolitan area of the USA. There were hint of biases here and there, and it became alarming. In 2005, two junior officers received punitive letters from our commanding officer. The Navigator (Caucasian) mimicked a monkey and claimed it was an enlisted sailor who happened to be black. The other officer laughed at the navigator. The enlisted sailor filed a grievance against the two officers, and the two officers appeared in front of the commanding officer after an investigation to receive their punishments. This incident was jarring, but it would not be my last encounter with racism in my American experience. Some times later, a shipmate confirmed his bias to me. He made the following claim. “I will dump my girlfriend if I find out she dated a black man before me”. I told a few other black sailors, and we proceeded to roast the individual for his bias. In January 2007, My tour in Japan concluded, and I returned to the USA.
I attended a few months of training in Great Lakes, then I reported to my next unit in Norfolk, Virginia (USS STOUT). I noticed changes in behaviors since I immigrated to the USA during my time in Norfolk. I noticed more inter ethnic couples. However, there were still signs of racisms. I remember being stopped by policer officers, and being suspected driving while intoxicated. I had a passenger in my car who admitted to have been drinking. They did not believe my Caucasian passenger. They gave me a few field sobriety test that I passed. I had a coworker who was fine with me till I started outranking him. I would like to believe it had nothing to do with skin tone, but his aggression was muted towards another Caucasian outranked him. My tour ended in 2009, and I moved to Illinois. In Illinois, I opened my eyes to racism around me. I was still going to bars and other unsavory establishments. One evening, a Caucasian woman came and asked me if I could get her some cocaine. I was shocked, because there is nothing that says I am a drug dealer. This woman annoyed me very much. A few people have call me with the N word epithet, so I am under no illusions that racism still exist. However, my attitude change one weekend in 2014. I encountered a Karen. My neighbor called the police on me, and these cops tried to scare a confession out of me. They failed though. There are other incidents that have happened, but the list is quite long.
Racists incidents have been occurring since the inception of the United States of America, but Americans see them due to the existence of smartphone cameras and social media. I am a black man to a cop until I speak. Racial profiling, and stop and frisk policies are systemic racist policies.