I know, you don't want to hear me rant about where I was raised again. I totally get it. However, in the light of unfortunate events involving George Floyd and his death and the aftermath of said death, I cannot ignore this.
Now, this is going to be a sensitive blog post that I will be writing. The picture at the end is proof of that. There is also plenty of spiteful, crude language festered within this (none of which I condone). Therefore, if you have a weak stomach, I advise you turn away.
First, let me say that my time in Romeo has been good and a bit bad. I moved to Romeo from Sterling Heights when I was 13. For the most part, a majority of the people in Romeo have been nice and respectful. On one hand, Romeo was the equivalent of Cheers, where everybody knows your name. For a small town, there has been plenty of lore around Romeo. This ranges from Kid Rock to Friday night football games to Peach Festival to St. Baldrick's. Romeo's had numerous musicians make a name for themselves on a smaller scale along with plenty of dancers who've danced for professional sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Pistons. Romeo's even had a football player try out for the Tennessee Titans! How cool is that? I've even seen an outpouring of support when I got started with WRPE and with my current work with the FAN Action Nation. With this, I cannot thank the people of Romeo enough for this. While all of this sounds nice, there is a bit of a dark side to Romeo.
Let me lay a bit of background into this. During my time at Romeo High School, I cannot tell you the numerous confederate flags I've seen fly throughout the parking and downtown (which is surprising considering that Michigan was on the Union side of the Civil War). I also cannot tell you how many homophobic attacks were thrown my way (ironically, one of the instigators actually looked like Eminem, who is an excellent rapper, but has been notorious for homophobic attacks). I also cannot tell you how many times I got picked on or had people try to start shit with me in general for being 'different'. I did nothing to these people, yet they and their friends got a kick out of it because they were young, stupid, and were looking to get a rise out of me. There was even a middle-aged man that called me a "nigger lover" because I was listening to Dr. Dre on my way to work at Kroger when I was older.
I found out I wasn't the only one with these problems. I heard stories from others about being mistreated. Stuff being said in football practice and outside of it! Stuff being said in school and out of school! Some people have stated that Romeo loved "black athletes", but disliked black people. Anti-semitism, racism, and other misdeeds experienced by fellow alumni. The harrowing reality of uninhibited beliefs was overwhelming and astonishing!
This is not the first time Romeo has done this. In fact, Romeo has even been featured in the state media when one student was "getting ready to fight a black boy tomorrow or even ten", threatening to bring their "country boys" along. There has even been discomfort regarding biology homework at Romeo High School involving who the father is. Jerry Springer wouldn't know what to do with this town.
Now, not all of Michigan is like this, nor is all of Romeo like this. Yes, there have been the protests in Lansing where numerous protestors carried firearms to the state capitol. Yes, there are also pockets of willful ignorance in certain spots in Michigan such as northern Macomb County. However, that would be unfair to paint an entire region with a broad brush. After all, Michigan is home to numerous accredited universities and schools. I graduated from Oakland University, which is based in Rochester. OU was extremely accepting of people from all backgrounds and extremely mature. It's just that the state is fighting its own issues right now and it looks like this war has no end in sight.
It pains me to see this. Here, I thought everyone would have welcomed outsiders with open arms and not just people of the same ilk as me. Moving forward, I wish the small town I grew up in would do this. Quit celebrating someone getting their 15 minutes of fame by dancing for a sports team, doing bits, or singing hack songs and start making minorities, especially African Americans, more comfortable and welcome in your community. I hope this picture (from Facebook) below doesn't represent the small town I grew up in because this would be the worst of looks for a town that's looking to strike it big.
My life! Food, sports, school. It's what it is!