by Samatha Harris
Yesterday it was brought to the attention of BLM GJ coordinators, that a black man was subjected to harassment and racial attack while minding his own business at the Rimrock Walmart. There are people who live in this area, who feel like Grand Junction is far removed from the types of things seen daily on national headlines, when it comes to race relations. Sadly, these people are also very hesitant to talk to those who can give disappointed testament to the fact that this is not true. To be black in Grand Junction is to have eyes on you at all times. To be black in Grand Junction is to be called racist for talking about race, by people who will probably never take the time to look up what racism actually is. Racism involves power, and none of the 450 black people in this town have the power to ruin anyone’s life. It’s just not gonna happen. Melanin will silently disqualify you for a lot out here. Yes, it’s true.
The sad thing about this particular incident is that it was instigated by someone bowed under oppression himself, being without shelter. The individual who reported the incident thought he may have been under the influence. That’s neither here nor there to me. Having been homeless before, I understand the despair, and will never discount anyone on the street who has taken other roads to deal with their pain. Still, misery does not have to beget misery.
This individual railed at both this man and McDonald’s staff. He seemed aware enough of his privilege to not fear the cops being called. He mentioned hanging the black man in question. This is not the first time a local has railed at a person of color in public out here. It’s just that when it happens, the discussion mainly stays in tight circles. The subject of race halts each time the non-POC (white person) you’re speaking with gets close to the fear of being called racist themselves. It’s like this nation knows that racism is wrong (for the most part), but no one wants to take accountability for how they may be benefiting from this system. So we go around in circles, people who think they’re liberal enough to know better, and those who don’t care. And it gets exhausting, when things like the situation above happen again and again.
There are too many good people in this town for this type of mindset to continue. Those out here who are of the clear majority need to stop being afraid at the possibility of fingers being pointed, when it comes to the subject of racism. Racism is a form of social programming, brainwashing, if you will. It is possible for it to be undone, but it cannot be undone unless the person with the social programming of the racist, comes to realize that now is time to swallow the red pill. You will not die, I promise you. Not even of shame. However, and I’ve said it before many times, bodies drop due to attitudes that actually do involve racism. Calling out racism doesn’t make the person doing so racist, especially if they are a minority.
I’d like to thank the good Samaritan neighbor who brought this to our attention, as well as those who were not content to just be bystanders. Thank you. It is you who will propel this community forward, as you have learned how to be truly compassionate. No one should have to walk through this community with a target on their back or stigma applied to their person, because there are still people alive who would rather cling stubbornly to outdated beliefs, than change for the better.