Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of female writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find here each week, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.
I look around at the world around me — at my country — and I can’t help but think we’re truly in the sunken place.
I remember reading an issue of Teen Vogue when I was 11 years old. It was a story about this white girl in the South and how she couldn’t go to prom with her black boyfriend because it was segregated. I remember thinking, How is that possible? It was the ’90s, after all. If I had a DeLorean to hop into about now, I’d sadly inform 11-year-old me how that wasn’t even the half of it, how the country I thought I knew has been in a nearly constant backslide ever since. It feels like for every bit of progress we’ve made, some bigoted douchebag has tried to set the country back an entire generation or two.
After watching the events that transpired last month in Charlottesville, Va., I want to say we’ve reached a new low. But while seeing a bunch of torch-wielding wannabe supremacists marching and yelling and ruining the Tiki brand disgusted me, I wasn’t surprised.
Even though these vile, deplorable racists are finally finding enough spine to show their true colors — which also happen to be the colors of treason, displayed proudly via their two loser flags, the Confederate one and the Nazi one — as a black person I have always been aware of their existence. This isn’t some new breed.
They’ve always been here.
And seeing how many young faces were among them was also not a shock. In fact, I’m glad they were there, because it dispels the erroneous notion that racists are old and dying out.
Since the incident in Charlottesville pushed racism in modern America into headlines, news feeds, status updates and tweets, I am increasingly asked to share my own experiences as a young black woman. The sad thing is, as I’m sitting here in this Thai restaurant in San Diego, Calif., I’m contemplating which part of my life I should touch on.
Should it be the legitimate fear I have for my own brothers, and how I want to implore them, for their own safety, not to go into certain areas?
Should it be the looks I’ve gotten when I’m holding hands and walking down the street with my white boyfriend?
Should it be that sunny Wednesday afternoon when I, on my way to the chiropractor, was pulled over for speeding and had not one but two white cops approach each side of my vehicle, hands on their holstered pistols as if preparing to draw?
Or maybe, just maybe, I should discuss the odd sensation of relief. It may sound crazy, but what happened in Charlottesville a few weeks ago proves unequivocally that the masks are off. Those who marched and chanted and yelled — their faces exposed to the world — forced us to take notice. Anyone who denied what was transpiring in our country has to admit that it’s pretty hard to refute now.
And I’ve seen the change — people who don’t typically discuss or post about politics are speaking up. I’ve seen how people can evolve, and it’s riveting and refreshing. Watching people acknowledge what they couldn’t see before brings a sense of calm in this torrential situation.
Tiki torches or not, such a display should be terrifying. I don’t know what I would have felt if I had been there to see it with my own eyes, or if I had seen that white-supremacist terrorist barrel through that crowd of people. But I do know that in spite of the horrors that are taking place in our country, it’s causing more people to stand — to rise — to open their eyes to the troubles that have existed for generations.
I feel a sense of pride at seeing those willing to battle them back. We won’t let history repeat itself. Those who are willing to stand outnumber those who remain silent.
That is true change at work.
I still have my fears — I am a black woman with black family, after all. There are still certain places in this country — hell, in my own city of Chicago — that I remain wary of. There are some places I will never dare to go. But I still have hope that we will triumph.
By speaking out, we’re taking that first step.