COON! A word I never heard associated with me till now. I felt so compelled to share this experience with you all because I never got a chance to communicate effectively with the mouth it came from. I also can relate to being “outed” by someone in your race for sharing different view points and growing up in a different household than most.
The guy I used to date, Tucker, made it clear how he felt about one night. The meaning behind that word “Coon” left so much hurt and betrayal on my tear stained face that within that moment, I would have rather have been labeled a bitch or a hoe. Humiliation was an understatement, I am not sure if it was the fact that I had wasted a few months with this guy & presumed he knew me better than that or I am just now realizing he is a personified jerk. Anger amounted me and I went in for the kill… through text of course. I wanted answers like why and how, but I got shady statements about my patriotism and westernized brainwashing. I wan’t sure if Tucker was over compensated for his light looks with dark roots, but the idea did cross my mind several times as many light complexion companions have tales of bullying growing up in the Black community for their appearance and inability to be labeled.
The argument steamed from an earlier discussion about the United States attack on Syria through a missile strike. Initially, I was thrown off that we were going to war again and jokingly said that I was tired of the US trying to fight everyone or a term used often, “see everyone with the hands.” I was so exhausted with the thought of going to war again with military families being thrown for a loop again; an increase in gas prices; and unexpected turning our lives upside down again. I stated that if the US is going to continue going to war, we need to get rid of the perceived problem completely, since the claim of safety is what the government alludes is it’s mission. I mentioned the extermination of Islamic terrorist and their family members that have adopted their terrorist practices giving an example of Osama Bin Laden’s son who was crowned the ‘Prince of Terror.’ Tucker mentioned being on the side of the terrorist while I mentioned that I was fearful for my parents working in military/government personnel buildings and something happening to them like 9/11. Tucker’s disregard for the safety of the US citizens, a country where he had enjoyed many a perks (i.e. democracy, freedom of speech, education, etc) as disgusting. His hatred was blinded his humanity and eventually he expressed his peace he made with himself if hurt in this war by the dismay of our government.
At this point, nothing I said would change my whimsical an sarcastic comments in the beginning of the conversation as he had accepted them as my whole truth and nothing he said would cause me to ignore his lack of humanity. Tucker believed that all military individuals especially those of color should know what to expect when entering the service that includes being blown up. Tucker related my care and concern for my family as a lack of concern for the Syrian race as he believed I wanted to exterminate them in whole (something I would NEVER say) and kaos ensued. Without knowing that my non-political based comments would lead to the fight of the night… as I love a good fight, I strapped in.
The tension the entire car ride was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. By the time I reached his home, the damage was done and there was no way he would allow me to explain that my comments were coming from place of satire and not realism. Tucker and I continued the battle via text and that is where I was labeled a Coon for my “coonish behavior.” I over exhausted myself that night trying to explain myself, but for every word I spoke, Tucker twisted it into an anti-Muslim, pro-government tone. I was labeled a “good ole US patriot girl;” “brainwashed by Western civilization;” and somehow we walked into religion, a battle that neither one of us could walk away from peacefully. I was labeled a “Bible Thumper” and “Devout Christian,” as my faith had been tested several times with this guy previously. Tucker was anti-Christ due to the use and manipulation of the Bible to keep slaves in play.
My experiences in westernized Germany far outweighed that of the westernized USA and Tucker had no idea. I did mention being blessed to be in the US as opposed to some third world countries, where going outside means a fight for your freedom and your life, literally. Similar to growing up in Germany, I had to constantly fight and run from dogs that were trained to attack someone like me something most Black people my age never experienced. I remember peddling at nine years old for dear life as a set of Rottweilers were called to attack me as many of the racist residents never seen a 9 year old Black girl riding her bike through their neighborhood. Not to mention that constant calling of “Nigger” including from the bi-racial children. I didn’t get a chance to mention the “skin heads” and other racist organizations that loitered the neighborhood and could at anytime leave my Black American body mangled on the side of the street.
Nonetheless, our conversation continued to prove damaging and ties were severed. I could not understand how a human being had an issue with expressing your opinion or reading the Bible or praying. I tried to express how reading the Bible and prayer have helped my life in dark times; struggling with my faith and not entrusting everything on the pages. However, I was able to find what related to me and tried to put those good words to use, but Tucker had turned a death ear. I could not fathom how my upbringing and my experiences and my truth could cause this guy to label me as a coon. I had to take a further look into the word to see if that even slightly aligned to me.
The word coon was used to refer to Black people in the early 1800’s steaming from slave barracks called baracoons and tending to be related to raccoon with a representation of meaning by the character “Willie D.” A coon is a dehumanizing term referring to a person of color who is lazy, buffoonish, and cynical- One who is a servant, but not happy with their position. Many people of color use the term today to refer to any person of color whose opinion differs and may not express the victimized mentality rather there is evidence to support their theory or not.
After some soul searching and a few “Wu-Sahs,” I realized that Tucker clearly, did not know me. If so, he would know my love & compassion for helping the community specifically the children, our future and the range of things i want to be able to provide to our community whether underprivileged or not. I was allowing someone to steal what makes me different, my opinion and twist it to his truth. I remember in middle school when I first moved back from Germany, how the kids would tease me and call me an “Oreo” (term used for a Black person that is perceived as trying to be White). I was referred as this term based on my accent, proper English speech, and the fact that my clothes were not “urban” enough. Who I was, was being translated as something different to the unfamiliar children; the same concept can be related with Tucker. It appeared my military Christian background offended him and my non-abrasive nature toward the system were being translated as nonchalant. Even though I had expressed in our short dating history, that I connect the most to human emotions as mine were often ignored growing up.
Nonetheless, Tucker had already condemned me as being in the “Suken Place.” The miscommunication and misconstrued words/tone was not what lead to our demise, but the inability to effectively listen to one another did. Looking back, Tucker made it seem as if I was not “woke” enough for his radical mission, but really he was the one who was sleep on my walk to forgiveness and alternative routes for achieving justice. I questioned his loyalty to the community, as I have only heard him talk, but never saw action on his activist quest nor did I feel retaliation would be the answer to injustice At least I have actually acted on my causes and displayed peace while doing so. Maybe there was more to him that the unseen eye missed, but there was also more to me that he refused to find. I was left wishing that my comments were a little more sensitive and less satire in nature so that one could not over analyze the nature of it’s meaning.
Hatred is never the answer, but I do believe we cannot right wrongs until forgiveness is achieved. Forgiving is not a testament of weakness, but of strength and it is hard for one to see a clear perspective when abhorrence is involved. We must also accept the differences and variations we have in our community; it does not make one better than the other, but different perspectives are needed to solve a common cause. Calling someone in the community a coon, creates lines of separation, supports the Willie Lynch concepts, and assumes their is no variation in the Black culture. A coon is something I will never be, but a tycoon is what I envision in my future and my faith, family, and community will always be my motivation. To Tucker, I wish him the best and pray that God opens his heart and heals the hatred.