Photograph; A homeless African-American man in Southern California isolated on white. [Copyright: Russell Shively]
Cower in the corner. Worry and walk on eggshells. Look behind you. Be alert. There are certain standards that you need to comply with…Do not flirt with possibilities or ever fail. Most every one has been there when in the presence of a punitive parent, a punishing pal, or a threatening teacher. Even a preacher can be castigating. An experience or two with any one who is consistently critical can be devastating. We can be done in ever so sweetly. Ostensibly, someone can be great and still so innocently intimidate…inculcate, invalidate. The message is clear. We have been warned– do not deviate! We learn from experience to anticipate the wrath that might come if we do not meet the “standard.” Over time stress takes a toll. Less sleep, more eat, loss of hair, a sense of happiness that escapes us…with these we age.
Imagine the pressure placed on someone who never seems to be right, who is told that they are not bright, or just not welcome. You might be “Driving while Black.” Or walking the streets when not white. To know that the likelihood that you will be “stopped and frisked,” or frequently be the object of scorn – it’s racism and the presence of it changes us. Recently scientists have learned that circumstances can and will alter body