WRAL Documentary: The Skin We're In
On the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death, the new WRAL Documentary "The Skin We're In" takes a look at racism through the personal stories of people of color who've experienced racial discrimination first hand.
Mhm. Mhm. Yeah, man. The murder of George Floyd one year ago today ignited a national and international movement for social justice and renewed a dialogue about racism tonight. The WRL documentary team shares personal experiences of racism from people that our own communities in their own words, racism is an act of prejudice. The act of bringing someone down, making them feel less human because of the color of their skin or the way that they look. It's a system that um where laws and policies are put in place to elevate those who identify as white and to oppress those who identify as people of colour. Racism is when someone discriminates against you Cuando when they think they can take away your right to live your right to live happy and healthy life, racism is intolerance of each other's differences as human beings and that frequently comes out in some form of hatred. When I hear the word racism, I think of being treated unfairly. Racism is taught is not, it's not something that we're born with racism is really the fault of the construct. Mhm. My parents moved from north Carolina to Virginia many times. My mother would not always come back to north Carolina to visit see her family and etcetera. And if she didn't decide to come to north Carolina, then she would always make preparations for me to ride the bus. We were always seated in the back. Whenever we were to get off the bus for a snack or for refreshments, we were the last to get off, The whites were in the front and they would get off and get their food and would have time enough to be seated. We had to get the food from the little window that was cut in the back of the establishment and then we would have to eat our food standing up or in the bus or wherever. But this is the way the system was conceived, that this race is better or above or superior to the black race. And I thought this should not be Because I felt that I was just as good as anyone else. I served 20 years in the United States Air Force. I'm gonna write an Afghanistan war veteran. My father served in Vietnam. My grandfather served in the korean war and my great grandfather served in World War Two. I was assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field Florida. It was around 1996 and one day I was assigned to direct traffic due to a situation in dealing with some explosive ordinances. Everyone could drive forward, they could make a right turn, but they were forbidden from being able to make a left turn. A vehicle pulled forward and insisted on making a left turn, and I emphasize to a sergeant maybe three or four times sir, you cannot make a left turn. And as that sergeant drove off he began to call me all kinds of inwards. I said huh? In my command voice, I approached the vehicle and when I did the sergeant continued to yell at me, berate me, continually calling me in words. He spit on our boots, he spit on my uniform and when I went to get his I. D. Card from him, he told me that the N. Word couldn't touch us in his I. D. Card and he spit on my end and eventually he was going to spend in my face. I was informed that he had been released from the Air Force a few weeks later I felt really hurt. It brought back those memories of what my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather and what they went through and it made me realize that I still have to go through those things today. Four when I arrived 2015 I started to look for getting the license and driving license. Every time I was like trying to submit my paperwork, it was something else that they were asking me. He was really frustrating. Mhm. The way I got my license was finally when my wife told me, well I'm gonna help you because she was born here, She's white. She looks like european. She just like, okay, this doesn't seem normal. So I'm gonna try to go with you and your appointment. And the time she went, it was kind of straightforward too. To go to the process reviewing the paperwork, I started to make some questions and she was your answering like, yeah, he lives here. We live together. And it was like yes, yeah okay so everything seems fine and yes do your driving test and that's it. And I realized after that event like that just having my wife there, the way they kind of saw me was completely uh different. They immediately need a new life probably that that she knew better the rights that someone has at the D. M. B. And and that probably they can get away with me and but not with her. To me that was kind of racism. I was born in Miami Florida to Indian immigrant parents who moved here in the late 70s. I've faced racism mainly what I would call micro aggressive ways. It frequently will show up in A number of situations, whether it's a job interview, whether it's meeting new friends. Sometimes even vendors will say they're surprised that I can speak English as well as I can when I open my mouth to talk in October of 2016, I had gone to a produce stand to purchase a pumpkin that I wanted to carve for Halloween with some friends and I proceeded to pay for the pumpkin that I picked out and I asked if the vendor would take my card to pay for the pumpkin that I had chosen. And he, along with his colleague looked at me and said square in the face, No, we don't take cards, but we will take curry and then proceeded to say, yeah, isn't that your currency where you're from? Don't you pay for things with curry? Um and I was just so I guess flabbergasted that somebody could ask me that and left the premises pretty quickly after I felt very hurt. I think people like to call small incidents and daily incidents, microaggressions, but frankly their aggressions now, where are you ready from? Which is a common sort of question that I get. When I was in journalism school at University of Oregon, when I was covering a story with another reporter. And when we got to the location to interview this individual, this individual said, why is he here? He doesn't even speak english, which was shocking. And when I started talking, he said, oh you speak english very well, which even was more shocking. And I said, well, I think you would speak english. This will if you if english was your first language, it was a put down. And he saw the asian, he didn't see the american and that really made me mad. It hurt. Yeah, there was this bus that we would uh follow going to school. And each morning, either when we go to school or coming from school, we would get caught behind the school bus. I think I was in elementary school, maybe junior high one day we were coming from school and the bus stop to let the kids off, they saw us, they looked at us and they screamed out the N word and some other not so nice words at us, never met us, didn't know us, but just because that little melanin in my skin, they said that word when when a white person really says that word to you, it really is saying that you're not really fully human. That's something that I always remembered. And I came to find out that that school with a christian school. And I think that's kind of speaks to a larger problem when it comes to race a when I was a child in her hometown with my father, the two of us were in our car and make some folks in the community knowing who my father was and who we were as a family and what car we drove, targeted us and actually shot multiple times into our car. Really, it was all based on the color of our skin. And when the police arrived, uh, my father's car being shot up. They were just just fully dismissive of the fact that a shooting had actually happened. Um, that you know, the shooting was targeting our family. There was never a police report written up and nothing after that. This wasn't Asheboro north Carolina. That's where I grew up. There were a lot of incidents growing up, my parents had owned a number of restaurants, one of those being in Asheboro. They were targeted multiple times by the same people, property being burned restaurant being broken into us, being followed home after getting off of work. Remember distinctively riding around downtown with my dad and and just uh hearing racial slurs and just really Nasty things being said to us, having all of that around us really made us feel less human, 1965. I went off to Winston, Salem State University and I was telling them about the Ku Klux Klan signs. I skin it up for utility pole and and pull down one of their signs. And I've kept that sign until today, 1968. I was probably 22 years old. I had a very good friend of mine whose name was Alan Curren. He and I were very close, he was a white boy and but we were very close friends. We hunted together, we did a lot of things together and visited his home. He would visit my home and we eight at each other's houses, that kind of thing. I was going to meet him and uh when I met him he was crying and I wanted to know what was going on and he told me to hurt with you and I can't meet like this anymore because my body is telling me that you've been hanging out with the the N word person. It was it was sad and it was it was just like somebody broke my arm because we were just that close. We've been doing things together even with those other fellows. And then all of a sudden my color makes a difference in how we fellowship with one another. I was playing with my friend. I don't think he's my friend anymore. Now he was a white kid I was playing with at the time who I thought was really cool. He told me that if my mom sees me then she's gonna freak out. I just get scared and I run over to my mom, I hide behind her and I explained to her what um He told me, I immediately felt in my heart that it was because he was black. I just feel horror and I'm terrified and I don't want to get hurt just because of my skin color. I wanted to hear more and unearth what um the child was trying to communicate and as that process was happening, the mother was coming down the street. Um and so the child became very anxious and hopped on his bike and um as the mother was approaching, the child took off on the bike and I was like why why are you hiding behind me? And he said I don't want her to see that I'm black and I said baby were black, she can see it from over there. And I remember Zion asking me mama was that racism? My heart broke for him. I was sad because it happened to him but I was happy that he could name it for himself. Remember I had a teacher who sometimes we do roll call by going through the middle names. So my middle name is my korean name of course when it gets to its butchered and the whole class would also just like butcher my name too. And in that moment I'm like okay it's funny but what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say? Just moments like that where I I feel like I'm alone. I can't really stand up for myself and my friends don't really stand up for me either. I would definitely get a lot of comments saying like you don't have to study a lot because you're asian, you're automatically smart or if I'm in a group project or something, I'm always expected to do most of the work. Um because I'm automatically smart for me, it kind of invalidates the fact that I do work hard and I do study for things. I don't, I don't just make good grades and I'm not successful because I'm asian. There is hard work that is put into it and I study, I put in practice just like anybody else and to have my success and accomplishments be attributed to my race. It's kind of invalidating. So I feel like I have to work extra hard to seek approval I guess. Yeah, I felt discriminated against when I asked for a home. I felt discriminated when they asked for payment. When I had already given the money I loss. And the owners of the apartment only wanted me to leave because when I bought the money orders at the higher price, they didn't want the money, they wanted me to leave. I love the momentum. I felt very isolated and I felt alone. Like I didn't have the right to have a good place to live, where I would like to be with my family star con Mi familia And my mother have a daughter who is seven years old and and it's a momentum that time she was a baby. She was two years old. E mhm Quando quando when they said I needed to leave the apartment departamento when he was in the month of february one mess frio a cold one. Mm And I didn't know where to go at them. Wow long, long local media earlier dramas or hurt me the most was wondering where to have my daughter at the time Cuando when I arrived I want to change. We come here the majority of us to be able to progress or have a more dignified life. You never expect someone to discriminate against you for your appearance or for your language, support poor sarah for being a migrant. We're looking for a better future. So you don't think you have any racial bias. Go to WRL documentary dot com and take an implicit bias test and see your results. You'll also find an interview with an implicit bias expert and you'll hear from a rally attorney who says implicit bias training changed his perspective on race. You can also join the conversation by following Wre oh doc on facebook and twitter. You have heard people sharing personal stories of racial discrimination. Now hear ideas from those people for potential solutions to this complicated problem. I believe that we need to do a better job of communication, a better job of sitting down to the table understanding each other. I think it starts with awareness. It starts with the recognition and acknowledgment where we are as a country. Because only then can you move towards progress? I think a small step towards any sort of solution to racism is for all of us to have just an ounce of empathy and understand that we all deserve to be treated as humans. I think the other solution is to learn about each other's differences and actually be willing and open to have the conversation to say, tell me about your country or tell me about where you're from, being so good. I think the community or the people who like to discriminate people, I think they need to give themselves some time to get to know other cultures, i to meet other people I that way they can see that we're all equal, that we all have feelings, We can work together to be a more decent and enriched community in Dora. I do think individuals can learn and educate themselves. It takes a lot of effort to go out of your way to learn something, especially for white people because they don't live through this. We need our fellow um brothers and sisters who are white, we need them to speak out, Everyone has to talk about and everyone has to acknowledge, I think serves some things that need to change within the public school system that we need to teach the truth about the history of our nation and not just whitewash truth. And I think we need to do an overhaul in the curriculum that we teach because it is very much a Eurocentric curriculum and it makes black and brown Children feel as if we don't matter. It makes white Children feel as in black and brown Children don't matter to it's time for us to have these conversations in all aspects of our society, education, entertainment, labor law, politics. We have to get past this together. You have to have a courageous heart, felt open and honest conversation. Love is the key. Yeah.