Well, I am pleasantly surprised to see a thread such as this one not reduced to personal attacks or angry rhetoric.
I have so many stories about
first hand accounts of racism, but I will only list a few so that I can make a statement about what I think racism really is. (just my opinion of
There was apparently an outbreak of lice at my elementary school. I remember the look of disgust and revulsion the nurse gave me as I walked up to
have my hair checked. I thought it was because she thought I had lice in my hair, but then I realized she did it to all of the children who were
Age 9 & 10:
Two new girls joined our class, who were of Japanese descent. I was very excited to get to know them because I had never met or had any friends who
were asian. We had a great first week of getting to know each other. Then the next monday they told me they couldn’t play with me or talk to me
anymore. When I asked why, they told me because their parents told them black people were not nice and not to be trusted. I could see the hurt and
sadness in their eyes, but disobeying their parents was not an option.
Having been forced to move from TX to GA, the school high school I was enrolled in had black people and white people walking on opposite sides of the
halls, sitting separately at lunch and in class, and riding separate busses. It was unforced segregation, and the students preferred
way. To say I was shocked and bewildered would be quite the understatement. It was the first time ever I remember having no friends, as I could not
seem to relate to anyone on any level.
Having finally settled in a place called Conyers GA, I decided to take all advance placement classes to help prepare me for college.(I wanted to be a
Veterinarian) I was the only black person in my classes. Apparently only white people took those classes, and if you signed up for AP classes, well
then you were trying to be white. (I know-- doesn’t make much sense huh??)
So I endured several years of harsh name-calling, teasing, threats, derision,
and ridicule from all the black people who went to my school. And I do mean ALL of the black people. So needless to say, my friends were all white.
I was told by the white people who knew me (friends included) that I wasn’t really black, I was different. Try as I might I could never get them to
understand that I was
really black, and that outside of Conyers, there were other black people who were as "different" as I was. I don’t
think it ever really set in.
I am now attending Tuskegee University, a historically black college that my mother forces me to go to. (I had always wanted to go to Texas A & M
since I was 9 years old) Its a new experience going to a school where everyone is black. No one thinks I "talk white" or "act white", and
everyone is from everywhere. I only run into a few people who have some very extreme views about white people (actually, anyone who wasn’t black)
and unfortunately one of them is my history professor.
I become a thorn in my history professor’s side when I start challenging his "facts" about how black people are the "root race" and how all
great ideas are originally those of black people. (He even tried to claim Santa Clause as originating with black people, which I thought was downright
hilarious!) I did research on my own, and yet having only been limited to the info in our library (giggle-- no internet in 89'
), I was still able
to shed light on how many of his "facts" were untrue.
Now married and living in Wash DC, I am very pregnant at 8 months, and having strange pains. With my husband at work, I have to take the Metro Rail
(our subway system) to my doctors preferred hospital alone. In order to get there I have to take the train and then hail a cab the rest of the way.
As I wait at the bus stop where I know cabs stop to pick up potential passengers, my pains become worse. I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a cab
coming towards me. The driver slows down, looks at me, and then speeds up to pick up a man 20 feet in front of me. Yes, this man was white.
I am shocked and I start crying hysterically, worried about my baby and thinking Ill never get to the hospital. A group of people waiting for the
bus, rush to me and tell me how upset and angry they are that the cab driver passed me by the way he did. A man in a very nice business suit sees a
cab going in the opposite direction and waves him down. The driver pulls a very illegal u-turn in the middle of the street and cheerfully asks the
man where he would like to go. The man replies that he would like to go to the closest hospital , and then ushers me into the cab. This man in the
nice business suit just happened to be white.
Yet, the cab driver is not upset that his passenger is not the man in the suit. He asks me what is wrong, as I am still visibly upset and in pain. I
explain everything to him as he hurriedly speeds to the hospital. He apologizes for the other cab drivers behavior, and then personally takes me
inside the hospital and makes sure I am alright before leaving. He refused to take the money I owed him for the cab ride.
I am now working as a vet tech intern at an animal hospital located in Bowie MD. The Vet who owns the hospital is a great person, who makes anyone
feel welcome within 15 min of meeting her. Her staff consists of one office manager, one receptionist, another vet tech, and a Vet who works in her
place on Tuesdays. I feel like I have joined a new family. I notice that the woman who is the office manager, has been sending some rather strange
statements my way in a couple of our conversations.
A couple of her comments:
"You know, I really do like that Michael Jackson! He sure can dance!!" (Said out of the blue to me one day while we were driving to our group outing
to Six Flags-- paid for by out Vet no less!!
"Can you fry chicken??" (my reply: "yeah" ) "mmmmm hmmmm! I bet you sure can!"
"You know, we had colored people at my high school. We got along great with them, cause they never bothered us and we never bothered them." (I had
to explain to her that many black people would be offended if she called them "colored" and that she shouldn’t say it if she didn’t want someone
to start yelling at her. She seemed quite surprised at that, and wondered why “I” wasn’t angry at her)
“Hey that young black fella kinda looks like the lawn jockey in front of my house.” (I was too dumbfounded to make a reply. I didn’t know that
people still used black lawn jockeys. Well, that is until I saw a few while driving with the Vet to do a house call.)
"Hey, what do black people think about __________?" (Insert anything here. Despite all of my attempts to explain to her that I was not a spokes
person for all black people, she still asked.)
"Hey!! You look just like Aunt Jemima right now!!" (Said when she saw me in the heavy x-ray gown that we had to wear when taking x-rays of animals.
My hair was up in a ponytail and I had no scarf on.)
Now, I understood that this woman who was about 42, was suffering from never having left the town of Bowie, and the various situations involving her
upbringing. I didn’t see her as a racist, just as being ignorant and a bit bigoted. Yet the last statement of hers about me looking like Aunt
Jemima really made me angry. I explained to her that she had better not ever say that to another black person, as it was a very offensive thing to
say and she was sure to be cussed out from here to Sunday. She responded that she was just joking and that she didn’t know I would get so upset.
She tried to explain to me that because I was "different" she felt she could say that I looked like Aunt Jeremiah and I wouldn’t get offended. So
I asked her how exactly
I looked like Aunt Jemima?
[edit on 4/12/2007 by sylvrshadow]