“The Race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to the one that endureth till the end."
I remember when I was in second grade, and I was attending private school with my sister in the suburbs of Florida. My father came to school, for “Open House,” and I couldn’t wait for him to meet my classroom girlfriend Andrea. Dad arrived, and I grabbed his hand and dragged him over to Andrea, as my father smiled. She was brunette, and Caucasian, and I didn’t think anything of the matter. My father was incredibly kind to her, and softly and graciously shook her hand, and then we went to the other side of the classroom to meet my other friends.
What was interesting was that I wasn’t given the same exchange with Andrea’s parents, and shortly after, our school house romance ended.
I was just speaking to a mentor the other day, and he said, “Ulysses, racism is not born, it’s taught.”
I was taught that everyone is identified by their character and not their color, and if any basis exists, it is due to their behavior. Otherwise, we are all the same. I was also told by one of my mentors to “Go beyond and be brilliant, then they will see you as a man, and not a Black man.” But, even with all of my accolades, as a Black man, I’m discriminated against every freaking day.
I was leaving a high end bourbon tasting event in St.Louis the other day, and a white woman walked on the dirt so she could not be next to me. I took 5 flights last week, rode in first class all of them, and most of the time, I was the only black man in first class, and all the white men assumed i was boarding at the wrong time. I just did a lecture the other day, and everyone was shocked when I showed up as a black man, given the cultural ambiguity of my name. I’m constantly the only black face in most of my circles, or not being served in nice spaces. I am not necessarily being beaten up by the police, but as my life changes, certain places don’t want me to be there to diversify them.
But, I don’t let that irritate me because honestly, my goal is to unite, not point the finger or be angry. I want to help change people’s perspectives. With each blog, I get emails from so many people who read my blogs and they always say, my blogs help them "see things differently.”
As I look so much at what is occurring in this time, about race, is that I actually translate and process it as a race.
We are on a track, with spaces and lines to separate us, and we have created a competition since the beginning of time between, African Americans, Caucasians, people of Hispanic descent, Jewish, African, and the countless other ethnicities that exist. What’s also interesting to me is the mere fact that the world wants a winner. It seems to want to identify one group of people to lead the pack, but in this space of humanity, we are all winners simply because we exists.
Also in our capitalistic society, we are driven mainly by someone being the superior, and someone being the lesser valued; societies are shaped around someone reigning, and the other person serving.
As a child, you are given a box of crayons, and you are never taught which color is better, but to merely learn how to utilize all colors effectively and color within the line.
Traveling the world, I have learned to understand the beauty and benefit of multiple cultures and the gifts that each culture possess. When you get to a certain country or city, you always have a tour guide telling you what is the best thing to get from that place or to experience from that culture, and the other reality is that people don’t call me “African American”, they immediately call me American.
On the race track of life, my hope is that we can one day focus on simply being the best, conditioning our body and mind around only being judged and measure by our character not color.