Dear Racist Grandfather

Profile of little African girl writing  in classroom.
Profile of little African girl writing in classroom.

I remember that rainy day. The sky was a heavy gray, clouds were low and depressed as if the sky wanted to collapse and submerge into earth.

Even clouds don’t want to fly sometimes. We think ecstasy is in the sky but we learn that there is freedom in the fall.

When we surrender. Gravity is a fierce teacher.

Like all the bodies do when they get buried from gun violence. Bang bang is all I heard. I smell gun smoke mixed with the smell of ghetto rain, someone down the street was frying chicken too. When aromas merged they stink. The urban life.

I turned to my mother who was desperately rummaging through papers on the kitchen table. Rollers in her hair, her night gown unbuttoned on the top. I could see her pale white breast as she slouched over, eyes piercing blue with a watery gloss over them.

She was about to cry.

“What’s wrong mommy?” I asked with a shaking voice. Afraid of the answer.

Tears raced down her red cheeks. She put her hands over her face as if she was ashamed of crying. But crying was brave in my eyes. Hiding feelings was cowardly. Hiding feelings is what I did often as a child.

Finally she blurted out the words like she suffered from a severe version of terrets and said, “My father just died.” I walked up to her to give her a reluctant hug. She wrapped one arm around me loosely for two seconds then quickly turned away.

Mommy wasn’t very affectionate. And I never knew my grandfather so I couldn’t share in her grief. All I knew was his name was Lawrence. He is German and he once threatened my fathers life with a gun.

My grandfather didn’t want his daughter dating an African American man. He disowned her and all of her kids. I felt unloved from a young age. From racist family members who never even considered meeting me, not even on their death bed, just because of my genetic blessing of melanin.

Thankfully, I’m beyond his disdain for me. I heard he was a proud Christian but white supremacy was his real religion. Racism before God for his kind. Of course if the world truly practiced it’s so called religions, the world would be damn near perfect. Heaven would anchor down to earth…

The comedian George Lopez talked about racism during one of his shows. He said “Mexicans have two rules, don’t marry a black person and don’t Park in front of my house.”

Most immigrants and older generation white Americans have that rule. I don’t take offense to it now but as a biracial child it cut at my heart. Seeing my mother suffer because she loved a man that society taught her to hate. People think racism towards blacks is an American thing. Nah, it’s everywhere and in every country. Ask me how it feels to be hated for my DNA. Ask me how I manage to carry on carrying it. Ask me…

One thing is for sure, mommy went against the grain. I don’t descend from sheep, I was birthed by a soldier of love.

I still blink twice and swallow hard as I stare at Her. Even today, her wrinkles on her face can trace a maze of pain, but mostly triumph and raw, down to the bone, pure love!

The unapologetic bravery and supreme level of not giving a fuck she emits, her aura is not even a color, it’s an element, fire!

Her warmth unprecedented.

And fuck you Lawrence Von Raduenz, the grandpa who put his racism before his so-called god and before his family.

Before his humanity

Before his daughter

Before me.

This is how iron is split open. When they hate that you LOVE.

By Janell Hihi