The Best of Dayton Youth Radio: Home Is Where The Hatred Lives
How does it feel to be a Black teenager and have to process the many news stories of unarmed Black men being killed by police? Omari Gaskins was thinking about that as a 16 year old Dayton Youth Radio producer. Here's an encore edition of his 2015 story:
America, home of the free or is it? My ancestors were freed from their chains of slavery, but the shackles of racism, are still on my hands and feet. As a Black male, I am afraid of my future because of the killings of people of my color, such as Michael Brown, John Crawford and Eric Garner, I'm afraid I will never have one. I have three family members who have personal accounts of hatred at its best. My father could recall when he was profiled simply because he was Black.
"I pulled up in the parking lot of a Frickers, and I saw a police officer's vehicle sitting there. I drove over to go in and give my order. Unbeknownst to me, he drove up and went in behind me with his hand on his gun. And your mother came in after she saw it, I guess, because they had been robbed by somebody Black. But I wasn't doing anything. All I did was pull up to go get my food."
Next, I interviewed my grandmother, who was raised in a time when our beloved country was still segregated. She even commented that all the stress from being Black, at times she wished she was white.
"Well, for example, I was in the retail store getting ready to purchase some items and I'm standing at the counter and I'm the first one at the counter. And this caucasian lady comes to the counter, and the clerk went to her first and she saw me standing there before this white lady was at the counter. So that made me feel as though she wanted to serve her first and completely ignore me simply because she was white. I was upset. And this has happened numerous times."
When I was growing up through elementary school, I was always told that it was bad in the South. I asked my grandmother if it was just as bad in the North where she lived.
"In the North, it happened several places. When you'd go into these department stores, they're already profiling you to think that you would shoplift in the store. And sometimes I would say I will contact you when I need your help, just to get them off my back."
This is sickening. Three generations of American people and the views about them hasn't seemed to change. Why am I a threat? If I walk alone, I'm considered a thug. Yet my white friends have no problem walking with the hood on their head. But if I do, I'm suspicious of criminal activity? We need to realize that we are all a part of this country.
I don't hate white people. I'm just jealous that they don't have to be scared of what the police are going to think about them just for being in their line of sight. America is starting to accept gay marriage and gay pride, and we're starting to accept people for the different religious views. When is this country going to see me as a human being? As long as there is hate taught in the home, racism will still be a problem.
This series of Youth Radio stories was originally produced in 2015 by the students of the Dayton Early College Academy. To learn more about DECA, visit the school's website: http://daytonearlycollege.org/ Special thanks to Anne Rasmussen, Director Community involvement at DECA. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Vectren Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.