I am a black man in the United States.
My ancestors came here from Europe.
I have never been to Africa.
I never ate a cow or eaten meat from the bush.
My mother and I were raised in poverty.
My grandfather worked as a mule driver in Texas and was forced to work at a cotton mill when he was 12 years old.
My family’s only source of food was the corn he grew for us to feed us.
We did not eat beef or pork.
Our family lived on a diet of chicken, eggs, and rice.
My parents would often say to me, “You can’t eat all of that meat, you can’t do the things you’re supposed to do.”
My parents had a lot of respect for black people.
When my mother was a young girl, she was taught in school to honor and respect the black people she grew up with.
She was taught to love and care for all the people who walked the earth, regardless of race.
In my mother’s life, she saw the pain and suffering caused by slavery.
She saw the fear and discrimination African Americans faced in the South during Reconstruction and Jim Crow.
In the 1960s, my mother went on a hunger strike.
I grew up in the segregated South, but in my early twenties, I saw the suffering and injustice my family and my country were suffering.
It was there that I became aware of the systemic racism that was so deeply ingrained in my family.
In high school, I attended a school where students wore shirts that said, “We Are The People.”
The shirt symbolized how we all fought for our rights.
I saw firsthand the fear that black people were being targeted for.
In fact, in the years that followed, I began to see the systemic injustices in the country I was born in.
My first job as a bartender in New York City was as a barista, a job that paid more than the minimum wage.
I could afford the $5 an hour, but I did not feel like I was a “real” American.
I was scared to be judged and feared I would be labeled racist or ignorant.
As a bartender, I also experienced discrimination.
I worked in the city’s most prestigious restaurants and often made a living off tips.
But I felt excluded because of my skin color.
I felt like I could not make it in the world.
My friends and I would sometimes be asked to leave the bar after a patron did not like us.
I did what I was told, and I was left with nothing but a cold sweat.
The next year, I was working in a strip club, and the same patron started making comments about me and my appearance.
I knew this was not going to end well.
I had a job at the club and was looking forward to starting a new life with my friends.
But the day after the patron came in, I overheard my manager saying something to a young white woman who worked in a bar.
I looked up to her and I said, ‘Hey, can I get you a drink?’
The young woman looked up and said, yes, of course.
That night, I walked into the club with my girlfriend and asked to go to the restroom.
The bouncer at the front of the bar stopped me.
I started to explain why I was there, and he looked at me and said to me that he would not take me to the bathroom because I was not black.
I explained to him that I was wearing a shirt with a symbol of our liberation, the “I Am A Black Man” flag.
I told him that it represented that I could do whatever I wanted, that I would do anything.
I said that I had to go through this.
I wanted to tell my manager that he should tell the man who came in and asked for me to leave, but the man had already left and was not looking for anyone else.
He started to look me over, but he did not say anything to me.
He just looked at my girlfriend, my girlfriend looked back at me, and she was looking at me with her face covered.
I walked out and told the manager that I felt unsafe and wanted to leave.
The manager did not listen.
I went home the next day.
I lost a lot in my youth and in my adulthood, and it was there in my soul that I saw racism, oppression, and hatred.
I came to see racism as something that was embedded in the very fabric of my being.
I became a self-professed Black man in American culture.
I am black because I have been oppressed by white supremacy and racism.
I will continue to fight racism because I believe that the people of my race are more deserving of our rights and freedoms than the people in power.
When I was growing up, I never considered myself to be anything but a “white man.”
When I went to college, I became more conscious of my identity as a Black man.
I understood that I