By Charles Robinson
(ANNAPOLIS – March 1, 2019) – I have been asked by white colleagues if I was offended by the usage of this term. Yes!
Let me give you some context. Recently, Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post posted this simple question, “Did you ever have a relative work at a job in a racist environment?”
As a matter of fact, my late grandmother, Bernice Jackson, worked/toiled at the Hotel Reuger in Virginia, a segregated hotel. She was a waitress in their famed dining room. Their restaurant was revered for its menu, its ambiance and its backroom deals of Virginia Legislators.
I can imagine my grandmother enduring racial slights at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, holding her tongue as she served white men, some of whom were deciding the fate of Negroes. It is likely she was called a “nigger” by those same men who didn’t like her service.
As time went on, she likely heard the term “Colored” and “Negro” to describe her.
When my mother was given an opportunity to work at this establishment, it was clear to my late grandmother she didn’t want her daughter to endure what she had witnessed. So why did she stay? My ancestors endured slights and “played the game” in order to survive. My grandmother wasn’t the only one to continue to toil in uncomfortable circumstances.