Thursday, June 12, 2008

Opening the Wounds

Despite my frustration with the state of West Virginia as I stated in my previous post, I will always write about it. Just like my blackness, West Virginia has branded itself into my psyche. It will always be apart of me as much as I may attempt to deny it. Those who've read my books, listened to my podcast, or read blogs on myspace or, knows that I like to compare and conrast NYC and WV.

With that said, I get email all the time from strangers, friends, and family who may ultimately disagree with my perception. Some write me in full agreement, while others write me to scold my decisions and perceptions.

Hate crimes exist, as does ignorance, poverty, discrimination, lack of progression, and discrimination of race, class, and gender. All of this exists in each US state (and even overseas). But there's an intriguing, Romantic, sadness in the fact that Southerners and Northerners may have a different approach for these subjects.

As stated on my podcast, The Bougie Black Show, several episodes back, I spoke of the Megan Williams situation, where the young black WV girl was raped, tortured, etc. Truly a horrifying event. I consider myself an equal opportunist, cultural critic. Everything/everyone is fair game in my discussions for analytical reasons. During this episode, I spoke about how down south things are quite subtle. People will smile and nod to your face, but the next morning your house is burned down by that same person who was supposedly cordial. However, in NYC--it's somewhat different. People will TELL you they will burn your house down, and follow through with it. You kind of know where you stand. There is no subtlety, no surprises. I kind of respect that more, too. You know exactly where you stand with others.

I've seen people in West Virginia be born there, live there, get educated there, and marry and die there. I've seen people in NYC do the same thing. In both places, there are people who think their homestate is Mecca. Why move elsewhere, they think?And though I recommend traveling and living outside of your homestate for awhile, I DO believe that NYC affords many other opportunities than most other states could. Afterall, as a writer, I'd be bound to a local newspaper interviewing NASCAR competitors if I still lived in WV. But in NYC, there's so much more than that. And, above all, how on earth are we to pay off student loans on a WV salary? It's like we're kind of forced to move elsewhere, once we get educated. A survival tactic, perhaps.

I agree, these atrocities against the human race are not solely a problem in my homestate of WV. It's a global issue. And, at times I speak about those incidents. Remember a few months ago a young boy, barely a teen, was shot dead for wearing girl's boots and having an overly effeminant demeanor? Perhaps one doesn't remember that. But it was a US state out west somewhere where this happened. Rodney King, Sean Bell, Megan Williams--each of these happened in three separate states. But again, I speak about WV and NY so often because that's where I've lived and these are places one could find my heart. That's where my experience lies.

And, growing up in WV as the only Black family in Wayne County, WV, I thought everything was okay. However as an adult, I realize that things never were alright. As an adult I have hot flashbacks of my youth of having been called Nigger, having confederate flags waved at me, having glass soda bottles hurled at my sister, having problems for me and my sister getting dates for school functions, or even good friends because our peer's parents wouldn't want their child hanging with "niggers". After all down south, one believes it's okay to "fuck a nigger" just don't bring one of animal babies home if she gets knocked up! These are the things I remember. And because I remember these things, I've grown stronger with my opinion on my purpose in life.

And, true, not all West Virginians are racists or even alike, for that matter, I agree. However, I DO strongly feel that the State of WV, the appalachian mountains seclude West Virginian's from the world at large. I've had to reprogram my thoughts because of this. We're trained and brainwashed into assuming that man's interpretation of christianity, sexuality, modern thought and social norms are firm and final. We're trained not to question things.We're trained to believe that things are that way because things simply ARE that way. There are no changes.

Yes, I'm hurt by the state of my State. And, I'm tired of placing band-aids on her open wounds.

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