Living While Black in Longbranch
I moved to Longbranch 2007. A couple days after moving in, I walked down the street toward the southernmost point of Key Peninsula. There was a white man washing his gray 4x4 truck on lifts. He was wearing a camouflage hat, stitched with a confederate flag, with a fish hook on the bill. When I said hello, he gave me an unfriendly look (microaggression) and slowly said “Howdy.” A few months later the neighbor to the north, an adolescent white girl, angrily yelled the n-word at me at the top of her lungs.
I thought I left this kind of ignorance and racism behind in Seattle just to find it was in my neighborhood.
Before I married, I would get bored on the KP, so I would try and find things to do locally. On more than a few occasions, I would go to a bar in Key Center to have a cocktail and socialize. As the uncomfortable people later acclimated to my presence, they would come over to converse. When their liquid courage set in, they would call me the n-word, so I would abruptly leave.
Because I come from a large family of educators, I stayed positive and thought of ways to find astute folk, so I later joined the KP Community Council. I also helped with the KP Youth Council. We would take the youth to Olympia to speak to the legislators from the 26th district. One time, we had a celebration at a restaurant north of the Purdy Spit, heading toward Port Orchard. When we were at the eatery, someone used a racial slur towards me. I had to deescalate the youth from retaliating out of loyalty toward me.
I have learned as an educated Black man to disregard imbecility, otherwise I will perpetuate what society already thinks of me. All of the implicitly biased experiences came from adults who I believe were transferring their trauma onto me. In contrast, the children are exceptionally culturally competent towards me.
Rion Tisino, MSW, Longbranch