Guest Author: Shawna Brown
I finally understand why the director of the movie Monster’s Ball created something so taboo and unreal, or at least unreal to me. When I reflect on that movie, especially the hate between the African-American and Caucasian race, I realize that it is a reality in society, especially in the southern regions. But never did I believe that I would be affected in the comfort of my own home, on the computer screen, playing a low-key online role-playing game called Nexus. As I had taken a break between hunts, a character named Dave* had struck conversation with me. He had begun by making oddball jokes but then had eased himself into being somewhat normal and eventually became the replacement fighter in the hunt. As he had changed characters, I had noticed on his second character that his title was “White Power”. Being that I am what society would consider the opposite of white, black, this became a red flag in my mind because I was probably this person’s enemy. But being on Nexus where one can escape their own reality and create their own identity, I continued on with this hunt.
The hunt was pretty good. No crude racial humor yet, and really no comments about his profile. Then as everyone was going to leave and do other important things in Nexus we decided to continue the conversation as well. As I learned more about him I discovered that he was somewhat a nice guy, despite the events that had occurred in his life. He had really become the product of his upbringings and really knew no other way of life than to hate the races that he strongly felt hated him. He had been jumped a couple times and from that day forward never walked outside with his boots or brass knuckles. In the south, these teenagers were fighting a war that should have ended a long time ago. He had the most inhumane sense of humor. He found this joke funny for thirty minutes: “What is the difference between a pizza and a Jew?” and the answer being “A pizza doesn’t scream”. With laughter about subjects like that, I thought I was talking to Adolf Hitler online.
At that point I had to discuss it with my best friend Katherine* who I know online and in real life. She felt that I should stop talking to him immediately at that point in the conversation. However, I declared that not only was I going to get to know him so that he would like me but I would reveal my “true colors” to him at the end of the conversation with the intentions of him realizing that not all African-Americans or any race for that matter is not as spiteful as it may seem. And my plan worked well. I learned everything about him: family life, school, problems, love life, and everything else there was to know. We ended up having a lot in common: our birthdays are 3 days apart, we hated the sight of blood, and the take joy in talking to people who are laid-back like us. We even called each other twins. Then we began to define the details of our home life. He had proudly said that not only was he a skinhead, but his father and mother were proud to be ones as well. He had a brother but his family disowned him when they learned he was homosexual. Along with being removed from the family, the brother had received physical and I’m sure emotional attacks as well. This is what reminded me of “Monster’s Ball”; because Heath Ledger portraying the young man in the beginning of the movie had homosexual tendencies as portrayed by the first scene and had the same hateful situation happen and he ends up shooting himself. I would hope that would not happen to Dave’s family as well. However, I can only combat one social issue at a time.
After some intense discussions it became visual identity process. First it began with the height. I have an average height of 5’-6” besides there are really no stereotypes to height, hence he could not figure out who I was. Then he began with hair color and eyes. Having black hair and brown eyes can fit anyone’s description. Then he commented that women with black hair are sexy. I had to laugh out loud as I thought to myself, “Even black women?” And then you would have thought it would have been the crucial point where he asks, “What are you?” or “What race?” But he didn’t! He just started on another topic. He didn’t even bring it up when I had to leave and get dressed. So I brought it up at the very end.
I said, “There is one thing that you don’t know about me, that you haven’t even asked that you might find important. You may not like it, either. If that’s the case, oh well, it’s been fun”. Then I continued without pause, “I’m African-American”.
There was a slight pause, and I was thinking, “Oh God, he’s going to freak out on me.” But he didn’t.
Instead he said, “That’s cool, I was actually looking for someone to talk to that was black or Asian so I could prove my parents wrong.”
I then breathed a sigh of relief, for my plan had somehow worked. Then he added that he really only has a problem with black guys. He also warned me of people in white or red suspenders with boots and shaved heads. I told him those type of people couldn’t stand California because of all the liberal interracial dating and homosexuals. It’s uncommon for people to be dating the same race.
From these conversations, I had learned that he may have been sheltered from a world where different races interact, but I had been naïve enough to believe that everywhere had the same Paradise I had experienced my whole life.