by Andy J.
I want to protest. I want to let people know that racism is foul, and that we should change our minds about how we see people of color in America. I want to walk through my city with a big sign advocating for peace, unity, and equality. I want to feel safe here.
Unfortunately, I am not. Living as a Black man in Shamokin, Pa for these past years, I have witnessed so much racism spilling out of people whom I didn’t even expect. It comes in forms of ignorance and bigotry. Sometimes it’s blatant. My family members have all been on the receiving end of racial slurs and hate speech. My mom who always wears a smile, had been physically attacked here in 2006. My brother, the nicest person you’ll ever meet was called a n***er at his job, to his face, as recently as 4 weeks ago. Around a group of at least 20 people at Susquehanna University, someone yelled the n-word to my face and I was shocked as nobody around did or said anything.
This area has a history of white-washed education. People here don’t have enough of the Black and Brown perspective. They watch the media and absorb what they see in movies. There is little to no diversity to represent minorities. People’s parents teach racism in the households. I bet a few of you reading this right now have grandparents who still use the hard r.
My point is, you can be respectful, kind, peaceful and passive. You can graduate high school with a 700+ on the reading section of your SATs. You can be involved in numerous sports, clubs, activities. You can be educated with a bachelors from Susquehanna University. You can go to Trinity Lutheran Church on Sunbury Street every Sunday. You can never commit a crime. You can work your ass off at a 9-5 every day, pay your bills on time, without public assistance, and spread love through your community and still be spat on and called a nigger…
That’s why people are protesting. The attitudes and actions NEED to change. It’s so obvious that America needs to change that we have other countries protesting on America’s behalf. America…we need to change. Assemble, donate, advocate for inclusion. Get rid of these hateful beliefs. Please. We love you, we just want you to love us back.
Andy lives in Shamokin, PA and has recently graduated from Susquehanna University with a bachelor’s degree. He is a 22-year-old Shamokin Area High School (SAHS) alum and is a very positive role model in his community. He is a former drum major and varsity basketball player at SAHS.
Originally posted to Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CA5hM4_lpyZ/
There will be a protest for George Floyd in Shamokin on Thursday, June 4 at 2 pm – Market & Independence Street.
Ignorance can be overcome. I grew up in the area as well. Raised by my grandparents and indoctrinated with their generation’s racism. Luckily, I was also influenced by an Aunt and Uncle who did not prescribe to these outdated small town mindsets. My full enlightenment came about by sheer curiosity. Becoming friends with people of all colors and backgrounds and social standing. Traveling. Studying. Intelligent conversation and debate. The usual stuff. Sadly, many ignorant humans will never find their way out. I told my teenage daughter the other day that I thought by the time she was about to become an independent adult that the world would be a more accepting and peaceful place. We’ve gone backwards. As broken as we were in the 60s. She’s up for fixing it though. And that’s good. Peace to you.
Andy, thank you for your thoughts. No one deserves to be treated the way you describe and it is up to all of us to be agents of change. I grew up in the anthracite region years ago. I am now in my 70s. My grandfather started working in the mines as a breaker boy when he was eight. I myself never met a person of color till I was 16. As a child I used to think the black faced miners coming up from underground each day were “Negroes” (the term in use then). Somehow I connected “blackness” with oppression and exploitation even then. I am sorry for the experiences you have had. Racism is evil. And our so-called leaders are systemically trying to pit working-class whites against people of color to deflect our attention from the real core issues of dignity and economic justice that should concern us all. Please know that there are good hearted people in the coal regions who connect these things and are committed to change, especially at this moment in history as you articulate your truth to us. Keep up the good fight…we want to love you back, too.
I received an education after my graduate school education when I worked at a public library with a Black Studies collection. WOW So much had been omitted from my academic programs. I’ll always be grateful for the things I learned and the people I met.
I heard Civil Rights hero John Lewis speak of his experiences. Such courage.
Paula Charnosky Moroz OLOL ’63