Miscellaneous

“The N*gger Won It”

Who uses that terrible word at all, much less in the title of an article, right? But when I tell you this story, you will understand. This story is about an experience that helped shape the person I am today.

I am biracial—half black and half white—and I spent most of my childhood growing up in and around the small town of McLeod, Texas. I attended McLeod High School and participated in track & field and cross-country. Two of my childhood best friends were on these teams as well. Our teams were very strong, both in terms of ability and camaraderie.

My cross-country team and I were state competitors all four years of high school, and then a few others and I made it to State in track & field, also. We were really something. When I reminisce about my youth, high school sports are my fondest memories. Unfortunately, they are also the context for some of my worst memories. I am going to tell you about one of these worst memories.

One of my least favorite memories from high school is one of betrayal and heartbreak. It feels strange that I can still recall it so vividly. It was a warm, beautiful spring day and the day of the high school regional track meet, which happened to take place on the campus of my alma mater, Stephen F. Austin State University. SFA hosted the regional track meet for all high schools in that region of Texas. McLeod had a boys team and a girls team and we were separate from one another, technically, but we considered ourselves a single team because we trained together and did all but compete in the same races.

That day, we arrived at the SFA football stadium and began unloading our equipment. It had been a long two-hour drive and some of us split off to go set up camp in the field. Those of you unfamiliar with how track meets go, they take place on a football field encircled by the track on which runners compete. Track & field participants typically pick a spot somewhere on the field to use as a team base to rest and prepare for races. All the gear is kept in one spot and we watch over it for one another.

I went with some teammates to the football field to help set up shop. After all was situated, we dispersed to go do our own thing until the time of the races. Some of us stretched and prepared, some went to the bathroom, and some of us went to get food from the concession stands.

I had been set on getting some beef nachos and a coke ever since we arrived. I admit it wasn’t the best meal to have before a race, but our options were limited and I was confident in my abilities. There was plenty of time for it to digest before my events, anyway. After stopping by the restroom, I headed directly toward the smell of food. With my coke and nachos in hand, I headed back down to the field to watch the races.

The girls’ 100-meter dash had already begun and I was nearly upon where we set up. Only two of my teammates had returned so far, one guy and one girl. They had their backs to me as they tried to watch the race through the crowd of competitors that had gathered on the field. My teammates didn’t notice my return, which, I suspect, is the only reason I was privy to what I was about to hear.

As the runners were nearing the finish line, the crowd condensed and it became difficult to see the race’s conclusion.

“Who won?” the male teammate asked.

As the female teammate tried to see through the crowd, she responded, “I think the nigger won it.”

The commotion of the race and the clamor of the crowd nearly drowned out her reply. No one else had heard except, well, me.

I was devastated. I could’ve shrugged it off, I suppose, but she was my teammate, and so was he. In reality, I felt like we were a little more than your average team. We were kind of a family, at least to me. This hurt. Badly. I had literally shed blood, sweat, and tears with these kids and forged a bond with them, or so I thought. If those words came out of her mouth to a fellow teammate, what did she think of me? Was I a teammate in her eyes, or just a nigger on the team? It didn’t matter. Her racism was apparent and there was absolutely no justification for her words.

Anyone who has ever been a part of a team, a military unit, or something similar is familiar with the kind of bond between its members. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel like I was part of the team anymore, and now I couldn’t stop this growing suspicion that I wasn’t viewed the same as the other people on the team. Who shared their views?

I didn’t know what to think or who to trust. I was one of only four black students in the whole school. I was no stranger to racism, mind you, but this was the first I’d encountered it from my teammates. I quickly left the scene and found a secluded area for the time being. I had come to sit, think, and try to hold back the tears that were forming. My teammates never saw me. I vanished before they ever turned around.

Words do have an impact, especially on children. I think that’s why this memory remains vivid. Not many people know this story, and I am uncertain if anyone from my high school knows it. I never mentioned it—not even to my parents—the entire time I was in high school. It wasn’t until sometime in college that I told anyone at all.

I brought home five regional medals that day. The heartbreak I felt quickly turned to anger, and I used that anger to triumph over my enemies. My enemies were not the runners against which I competed, but the traitors—the racists—those who saw me as “less than.”

I carry this memory with me always, for it is one among many that opened my eyes to the insidious evil that continues to haunt society. It is a motivator to always do my best and prove wrong anyone who sees me as less than they are. More importantly, it is a motivator to stand up against racism and oppression. That is and always will be a cornerstone of who I am.

[Addendum: The original version of this article was edited on August 17, 2017 in order to read more smoothly.]

10 comments

  1. Living well is the best revenge – and in the end….you are winning still. Proud of you and much love to you my brother.

  2. Having grown up in a totally white southern Oregon town (which had sundown laws still on the books in the 1960’s-70’s), I am completely unfamiliar with racism, per se, as my parents did not instill this in me or my siblings in any way. I went to a small college in southern Oregon, and still did not experience racism. though I was familiar with it from the TV news. When I moved to Portland, later in my life, I saw it in action…devastatingly. We are all people first. People First. A movement that began in the 1960’s and in which my disabled cousin (devastated by cerebral palsy from birth; labeled as a mental retard much of her live; even as an adult, she was labeled as “demented” in her medical record, because she was very very difficult to understand, her speech was so affected). I was taught all my life to respect all persons (unless they hurt me, or were criminals). My heart goes out to you, Sean, for this lifelong devastating experience. I don’t understand why this occurs.

  3. Rude awakening for you, sorry to say Sean but your story is just of of many, you did the right thing by going on and winning the medals you won. The sad thing is that now in 2014 with a black president they’re are some people who think that racism is over when on the contrary it’s more prevelant than ever. The one place I was somewhat surprised to to see racism rear it’s ugly head is in porn. I’ve heard in straight porn where white actresses won’t do scenes with black actors in fear on losing white male fans, in gay porn white studios not wanting to use and white actors not wanting to work with black actors, I’ve read some of the most racist comments from white gay men on gay blogs. Gay or straight the sad fact is racism is part of American culture, what happened to you in high school I doubt was your only incident with racism and it most likely won’t be you last, how you handle the situation says a lot about you as a man, you took a negative and turned it around and as black men we have to do that everyday.

    1. American culture? Not only. I am living in Rome, and have found discrimination for Romans by superior attitudes from Milan, the more fashionable region nearer Switzerland. Also against Sicilians, who are assumed to be farmers and stupid. I was in Cuba for 30 days and found those in Havana discriminate against easterners from the Guantanamo region, complete with jokes about how they are “Palestinians”, and in their popular undesirable profession as police, for being paired (as it takes two of them to achieve the required 6th-grade educational level). As a blue-eyed blondish German I was stopped here on my way to the beach by police, suspected of being whiter than most (Slavic or Russian Republic, often without credentials). Once my passport was produced, reverse discrimination came into effect and I was “golden” as an American and let go on my way immediately. Both are wrong, I’d prefer the same scrutiny anyone else with my appearance gets.

      I traveled in the US for three years with a team who trained corporate offices. Among my peers were several people with thick Southern accents (Texas, Alabama, Georgia). Invariably, anyone with a technical question would shun them and approach me, thinking my “normal” American English somehow made me more intelligent.

      I’m a good looking man, and have always had it easy as a blonde-blue Germanic American… except for the issue of the religion in which I was raised. Having a grandfather, father and brother as ministers and a cousin as a missionary, coming out changed the way I was treated. Even in my corporate life, while traveling, I overheard very hurtful comments when people did not know I was in the room, specific to me and my orientation, such as “I don’t know where he is, probably out sucking dick somewhere”. I wish I had been, especially after hearing that.

      Are you obese? Thin? Ugly? Too black? Too white? Albino? Do you have a speech impediment? Are you from a region regarded as inferior? Ancient Rome had a caste society, and at one point in the Colosseum games, an entire section of the paying audience was thrown to the lions because the emperor (Caligula) was bored at intermission. Of course, they were in the “nosebleed” seats at the top for having been lower-caste plebes. Ouch.

      During school days in Southern California, new arrivals from outside the beach culture are hopelessly ridiculed for not being tanned. How is it that you look sexier to mainstream pop culture when your pigment is turned on, yet in history those with exposure to the sun were regarded as low class, and the wealthy avoided sun in order to have “skin of alabaster” (I still wretch at myself in the mirror after a long winter). How is it that if you have a permanently higher level of skin pigment you are somehow the most available target for discrimination?

      All I can say is that we’re all that “Nigger”, Josiah, at some point, with some group. Those who have never been need to feel the icy grip of that reality, how it grabs your heart and clinches it, how the tears burst out without hope of control, how despite your intellect and ability to “take it” you feel worthless, rejected, isolated, and alone in the world.

      Josiah, you are a brave, intelligent man. I wish I’d been there to put my arm around you and kiss your cheek, and tell you they are ignorant assholes unworthy of your loyalty and affection. I feel for your situation, and have often wondered how I would tolerate injustice were my differences worn in a different level of pigment activity in my skin.Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. I am mixed too and somewhat the same thing happen to me. I lived in Maine, a lot of white people, and these people who I thought were my “friends” would slip out the word nigger to me which really did hurt, but I tried not to let hurt me because I know I’m not a nigger and never will be. But because of them I realized I could never ever date a white guy and the fact that every white guy I met have this weird fetish for black men and the fantasy of “Big Black Cock” which really turn me off like a light. Don’t get me wrong I still have friends who are white, but it not the same like I really don’t make jokes or have fun with them, it more like we meet up for lunch and have a little chat, thats it. I just don’t comfortable anymore because of that damn word.

    1. And an arm around you too, Alexander. Don’t let Maine paint your mind (in any color) toward the rest of us. Those white guys you’ve met with the “big black cock” thing are as ignorant as the rest. What if you’re black and have a small dick? We all know cock size is another area of discrimination… assumptions suck.

  5. Sad story, but not unique. Many blacks and other people of color have similar tales. What I find more interesting, is that since this event, you seemingly have decided to blend in and live your life as a white man as evidenced by your branding, choice in men, and choice of pornographer (e.g. Falcon, Randy Blue) both of which have an unofficial, but very obvious, no black performer policy, unless you can pass for white or racially ambiguous.

  6. LA2SF’s comment is a strong statement……one thing his comment brings to mind is that the color GREEN is the most powerful color in the industry. What I mean by that is that porn sites & studios are so afraid that white gay men will stop supporting them by pulling their green dollars, I get it porn is a business, the actor has no control over who a studio chooses to hire however the actor does have control over whether or not they would want to work for someone who holds that value of using only men of color that can pass for white. One reason I look for free porn is because of the lack of men of color in gay porn, I know what I like to see and if it’s available online for free why pay to be a member of a site that refuses to use men that look like me. The industry has black balled Diesel Washington for speaking up about gay porn’s racial practices and I love him for it, not saying you have be like him but it would be great if people like you & Austin Wilde got together with a Matthew Rush, Diesel Washington, Race Cooper and other men of color and stood together and said enough is enough. The funny thing is if black men think we have it bad asian men have it worse than we do, latin men are the hot piece for the moment but you better not be a dark latino. Sean I support you and like your work, I just think for change in gay porn to happen when it comes to casting someone’s going to have to speak up and it has to be someone that fit’s their standard of who is an acceptable looking man of color, and they guy happens to be one that is light skinned.

  7. I usually dismiss this type of thought as over sensitive, however I validate your thoughts because they’re reasoned well.

  8. Josiah/Sean,

    Well written essay. Your statement, “I sat there for a while with tears in my eyes as I slowly finished my nachos…” really shows your resilience in life. Then you went on to win 5 medals.
    You have a lot to offer (beyond your great body, nice looks, and sexual prowess). Keep at it!

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