Letter: Pillow patron's experience is all too common
To the editor:
I am writing in response to Leah Dadus's July 14 letter entitled "Skeptical about Jacob's Pillow incident." For some, I am sure it is hard to believe that such ignorance exists in a community that is bursting with liberalism. It is also easy to doubt the validity of someone's experience with racism in this area when it is the first instance in many years you have read it public news. But the events Jacob's Pillow are minuscule to the number of similar experiences that are not shared with the public.
Why don't more people of color share their experiences? Because it is humiliating and tiring. I am an 18-year-old, Cameroonian-American and have lived in Berkshire County all my life. Because I am a part of such a small population of black and brown individuals in this area, I am a teacher. By that I mean, I have been the point person for what "is" or "is not OK to say to a black person." Not my choice.
My mother is white and my biological father is black; I have had to explain to countless people how I am not adopted, all because when white people, even and especially "very liberal" ones, see the contrast between my mother's and my skin they think it is within their right to ask.
I have dodged countless reaches for the hair on my head because it is five inches tall. Because it's an Afro. Because it grows that way. Up. That kind of "attention" is again, not my choice.
What I have learned through my many experiences, is what IS my choice. It is my choice how I react to ignorance and racism. I have learned that what you can't teach out of people you have to call out of them. If you have trouble believing that racism, ignorance, and insensitivity still exist in our community, imagine what it is like for a person of color. If you can't imagine what it is like for a person of color, then listen to our experiences. And if you can't listen, prepare to be called out.
As Thurgood Marshall, associate justice for the Supreme Court for nearly 25 years, once said, "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." Listening is an intrinsic part of that recognition, and for those who have, hats off to you.
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