My name is Keith Richards. I’m 31-years-old and I currently live in Colorado. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, I feel like in 31 years of life I’ve seen and done very much. There is a band named Bring Me The Horizon who has a song called “Crucify Me”. There is a line that states, “There is a hell/Believe me I’ve seen it/There is a heaven/Let’s kept it a secret.” As a staunch political independent, who happens to be African-American, the last few years in this hyperpartisan environment have been tough. In short, it’s not easy being an independent minority.
As Bring Me The Horizon alludes, I’ve seen the highest of the high that this country has to offer. At the same time, I’ve seen the lowest the country would rather people didn’t know about. Yet, these last few years seem different. Particularly, the last two years are different. In a time where it’s logical for everyone to come together, the division is widening. Now more than ever, people are picking sides. As someone who finds fault in both sides, the middle is the worst place to be.
It’s tough to explain what it’s like to be an independent minority, but I will try. First, there is the hypersensitive and intense racial climate. It’s toxic. Full disclosure, at 14 I was adopted by a white family. This is the highest of the high. This family took a 14-year-old black kid fresh from the ghetto with no hesitation. I know for a fact it was hard for them. I know this because it was hard for me. Yet, they stuck with me. This is the side of Caucasians that people don’t see exist.
It is important to note that there are white nationalists that are a major black eye for all whites. However, as an independent minority who knows better, I can tell you not all white people are evil. In fact, I can tell you that most white people are fantastic people. Whether it’s white guilt or minorities blaming whites, I can see how some Caucasian people can feel they are being attacked. It goes back to the feeling of extremes. People feel as if you have to be 100 percent one way or the other. It’s not true. It’s possible to believe that there are some sects of whites with outdated beliefs while believing that the majority of whites try to do better. The blame, though, goes on both sides.
Yes, I’m talking to you now, my fellow African-Americans. As an independent minority, I know of the struggles we face. Arguably, I know them better than most. Not only am I an independent minority, but I have a white wife and a five-year-old biracial baby girl. Both of whom I love dearly. Society has one believe that the discrimination and sideways looks come from Caucasians. That’s far from true.
While I do get sideways looks from older whites when out with my family, I hear snide comments from my own people just as much. If not more. As an independent minority who has “white tendencies”, the name “Oreo” is something I know well. My blackness is continuously questioned. As if there is just one way to be black. Often, I feel as if I’m more accepted by Caucasians than my own people.
Furthermore, African-Americans, we need to start accepting responsibility for things. Trust me, I know it takes a lot to beat the system. I also know it takes a lot of luck to beat the system. However, this does not give us license to blame the system for everything. It’s not the system’s fault that you choose to buy Jordans instead of saving that money. So, when your brakes go out, those Jordans seem not as important when you’re walking everywhere in them.
Really, what I’m trying to say is that I know it’s tough to be black. I also know that it’s easy to blame others while being black. I do not make light of those in the struggle. In fact, I have family still in the struggle. Scratching and clawing to get out. Still, I know that we can be quick to blame others when we’re not doing our best. This needs to stop.
To finish, let’s look at what it’s like to be an independent minority from a purely political standpoint. It’s almost as toxic as the racial scene in America. Liberals and conservatives both call you a traitor. Republicans and Democrats tell you they are working for you. In truth, they’re all liars.
Being empathetic does not make you a traitor. Republicans and Democrats both work for their own special interest groups. Neither truly works for you. Absolutely, Republicans deserve the lion’s share of the blame currently for the state of the country. They hold the keys to the kingdom. That is to say, they control Congress and have had control for almost eight years. Obstruction was the game under the Obama administration. Complicity is the game under the administration.
Democrats, though, tell me that they are working for people like me. People of color. Yet, it doesn’t seem like it. Of course, they try more than Republicans do, but that trying only goes as far as it benefits them. So, how hard are they trying really? When they are in power, I do not feel that Democrats have done enough for people like me. In fact, I don’t feel that they’ve done enough for anyone.
At the end of the day, I continue to fall back on this statement: My name is Keith Richards and I’m a 31-year-old independent minority. In a toxic political, racial environment, I suffer more than people realize. I do not ask for your pity. I just ask that you keep people like me in mind when you wage your partisans wars.