When I was growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, I was awoken by one singular task from my mother. “Get out of South Carolina,” she would sermonize. This would be repeated to me regularly and in different ways. “Get out of South Carolina and don’t come back.” Sometimes she would say, “Don’t get trapped here.”
My mother, who birthed me at 14-years old, and was the first to graduate college in her family, pushed me to pursue college outside the state and to never return because, she would say, South Carolina would trap and kill me. Maybe it was the way my uncle was coerced to admit to a crime he didn’t commit that resulted in him being sentenced to 14 years in prison. Maybe it’s the way South Carolina unapologetically praises its racist history by flying the confederate flag on the state grounds. Or maybe it was the way my guidance counselor suggested I go to community college because “that’s all you’ll probably get.”
As a black boy growing up there, South Carolina was never my home. I’ve felt more at home at Howard University, when I could share a similar sentiment of displacement, pride and fury for the way in which black people like me are treated in America. I realized I was not a South Carolinian (nor did I want to be) when I recognized South Carolina didn’t care about me or anyone who looked like me—nothing had changed for black life since I was kid. Black children are shipped from poverty-stricken neighborhoods to sub-par schools with little to no resources and excess police that patrol neighborhoods, some of which have a curfew. If you’re black and luckyenough not to be arrested, you may get a service job and be able to make minimum wage. My mother wanted to break that cycle.
When I recognized this trend, I began to believe I had no home and was seemingly alone. It turns out I was only partially right: I am not alone—the Charleston massacre is a stark reminder of that.
See complete article at Colorlines.com