Y’all Don’t Know What It’s Like to Feel Powerless

by Darren Cementina

Y’all don’t know what it’s like to feel powerless bro.

  • The first time I experienced racism was in the 3rd grade back in the Poconos when this kid, who I thought was my friend, made fun of my drawing and said “white people are better.” I didn’t fully comprehend it at the time.
  • In middle school, I was severely picked on for the size of my nose. My Black, “Squidward, monkey nose.”
  • Walking around Scranton, Pennsylvania most of my life, you realize it’s a lot of white folk. As I got older I started seeing a lot of Confederate flags. – The entire area is very pro-Trump. I once dated someone and attended a family gathering of hers and had to sit through dinner while the family made fun of immigrants and the current state of things while I, their daughter’s mixed Latino boyfriend, sat in front of them.
  • I was almost jumped leaving a college party by a group of drunk racist frat boys walking down the street shouting n*gger and other ridiculous profanities. I punched one in the face and ran five blocks to escape his friends.
  • The day after the president was elected, some pickup truck intentionally splashed me with a puddle while I delivered pizza in the rain shouting “welcome to the new world n*gger!”
  • I stopped participating in theatre in the NEPA area because I was SICK of being everyone’s “token Black character.” I’m not anyone’s diversity hire.
  • A white casting director once referred to me and my Black actor friends as “his n*ggas.”
  • Myself, and two friends were once followed around for five hours by a white man in a van while we were trying to get home. We hid at my friend’s house for an hour, and he was still waiting for me when I tried to walk home. I called my parents crying to come get me and my stepdad damn near ran him off the road. To this day I don’t know what would’ve happened to me.
  • While on one of my first theatre contracts, where I’m pretty sure I was the only Black boy in town other than at the university, a drive-by pickup called my group “n*ggers” and “f*ggots” while we stood outside after our show.
  • Every night while I play my video game, I’m called a “n*gger” by racist pieces of trash. All. Night. Every. Night.

I have a LOT of friends who support a lot of political views. And I’ve been very accepting of the ones who are pro-Trump for years because y’all have never treated me differently. I have been walking on egg-shells around YOU to make YOU feel comfortable. But now with all this sh*t going on, and I KNOW y’all see me being very verbal, you’re suddenly very silent. Not a word from any of y’all? You being silent shows me that y’all never really gave a f*ck about me. So thank you for showing your true colors.

These are my racial injustices. And they are minuscule compared to the ones my loved ones around me have suffered. I hope you’re uncomfortable. I hope you share my hurt. And goddammit I’m losing sleep every night hoping you wake the f*ck up and help change. Because I’m tired man. Y’all don’t know. You don’t.


Darren Cementina, 24, is an NYC singer/actor raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


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One comment

  1. As a Scranton native who moved away long ago, I’m appalled that the place seems to have gotten more openly racist. I do remember a lot of namecalling among the various European ethnic groups. I knew someone of Russian heritage who knew derogatory names for Eastern European groups I never even heard of. I guess it was there all along, and now Trump has sadly made it more acceptable to express these hateful thoughts.

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