This was beautiful and painful. I moved to FL a few years ago with my ex-husband for his job in the medical field. When I moved I was shocked at how few Black people went to the beach in Southwest Florida. I can’t tell you how many times I went to the beach, many times with my White friends and I was the only one. I once asked my hair stylist why the Black people there didn’t go to the beach, and she told me of horrible demeaning stories about how people would call the cops and have them all removed as if their mere presence would taint the ocean. Also, White and racist international tourists were “afraid” when there were too many Blacks showed up at the beach, as if their tax dollars didn’t give them the same access and privileges as White residents and tourists. So local officials, White residents, and the police teamed up to make sure the beach didn’t harm tourism.
Blacks are kept away from the beaches via intimidation tactics.
I was floored. From that moment on, I always monitored how few Blacks were at the beach. More than 30 times in my years of living there, I was the only Black on the beach. No one ever questioned why that was so, not even my White friends. They seemed not to notice it until I brought it to their attention. It was one of my first introductions to how Black people are treated in Florida. It was also a wake up call about my privilege. My educational background, income, and free-spirit allowed me to go into White, sanitized spaces locals were not allowed. I will never forget the hurt and fear in her face.
White people even prevent our access to public beaches STILL in 2018, is history and indeed Tuesday. White people prevent directly by voicing their opposition to Blacks being in what they believe are their spaces, or they prevent access indirectly by not being aware of the lack of diversity in their spaces and questioning why. Their silence is consent.
Black people would love to go to the beach with their families and friends without the dirty looks and harassment. Since that’s not possible, they stay in their safe Black spaces.
Blocking Black access to beaches and pools of any kind reminds my of the old K.C. and the Sunshine Band song.:
That’s the way
ah huh, a huh
they like it…
ah huh, ah huh.
If it’s White, it must be right. If it’s Brown, it must go down!