Monday, October 24, 2011

The Early Days, Continued

Kindergarten brought my first experience with a racial slur, but it would be nowhere near the last time that I experienced racism in school. When I was in the first grade and we'd have to line up in alphabetical order, there was a girl who stood in front of me by the name of Dana. Apparently she and her family didn't like black people because whenever we'd be standing in line to go to lunch she would always say in a sharp tone "Don't touch me!" Mind you, there was a normal amount of distance between the two of us and I wasn't even paying attention to her half the time. I guess the fear that one day I might actually touch her influenced her parents' decision to move her to another school, because after a couple of weeks I never saw her again. I often wonder what happened to her...

The rest of my elementary school career was fairly uneventful as far as my encounters with racism were concerned. I got invited to birthday parties and sleepovers, where I was always the only black child, but it never really phased me. I think it bothered white people more than it bothered me. A girl that I was friends with was going to invite me for a sleepover that she was having, but her mother said I might be uncomfortable being the only black person there. Seeing as I interacted with white people five days a week during the school year, I think the issue was more hers than mine. Looking back, I regret the fact that I couldn't reciprocate the invitations I received, but logically speaking there's no way a bunch of white parents would've let their daughters stay the night in a black household.

When I wasn't in school my summers were spent at home, reading. My parents couldn't afford to send me to summer camp, although I would've love to have gone. Instead my dad would take me to the library every few weeks and I'd check out about 10-15 books. Reading was a great escape for me. It took me to far away places and taught me about things that I never knew of. I gained a lot of knowledge about life in general from those books, and to this day, I love to read.


  1. What a cruel thing for that girl to say to you. People are people regardless of their skin color. We always tried to bring our daughter up to respect people of any color or nationality. Living in Madison when I was growing up was a good place to grow up. With the university of Wisconsin located there, it's a multitude of various ethnic groups. I remember when we moved to Green Bay when she was three. We were out riding in the car one day running errands, when all of a sudden she says "mom, why don't we see any black people or people dressed in sarongs (sp). Fortunately she grew up to respect all people regardless of nationality. My hope is that some day there won't be racism, but the way the world is going, i'll never see that in my lifetime, sadly. Can't wait for your next chapter.

  2. TW never went to any sleepovers and she was the same color as most of the kids in her class. She also never went to camp but she had more fun at home playing baseball and whiffle ball in the street and riding her bike. Unfortunately, her parents were extremely racist, but they didn't like hippies, Latinos, etc. either. Unfortunately, though, she grew up to respect all people.

  3. Kisses and hugs. Love you. I do..not just saying that.