Reply to "What is your first race-based memory?"

I spent my first 11 or so yrs in a city with a majority Black population. My whole world was Black with some Mexicans and Puerto Ricans mixed in (most of whom should've been classified as Spanish speaking Black folks themselves). My only contact with whites were while shopping in certain areas and my 1st grade teacher was white. Other than that, chocolate ruled my life.

Then I was moved to a place where the majority was overwhelmingly white. Where I lived my family was one of maybe 4 Black families. The school I attended held about 15 of us. So going from a Black world to a white one- just on looks alone- was a shock. But after the honeymoon period of say the first month or so, this is when I received my first hand lessons about color.

I was the dangerous Black kid. The trouble maker. Childish disagreements settled by fists in the old neighborhood was usually chalked up to kids being kids. Childish disagreements settled with fists (and sometimes not even fists, but the mouth) in this new world always ended with parents crying foul about their poor little kid being victimized at the hands of an animal.

I had to spend way too much time correcting the kids' rediculous opinions about Black folks. "My dad says..." and "My mom said..." was common. Sometimes to fit in I'd force myself to try to get into groups like New Kids on the Block or watch shows like Beverly Hills 90210. Those things actually endeared me to a few, made absolutely no difference to others, and caused my brain to itch.

Groups made up of a few kids being disruptive in class were always given a group pass, save for the nigger who always has to be singled out. Some kids couldn't wait to try that "nigger" word out on me, which of course always ended with the requisite azz whoopin, which of course always led to a whole 'nother problem. I think the only memory during that time that I look back on and can laugh at is while during one of those fights between myself and a white kid, I could hear a chant from the crowd, "Fight!Fight! Between a nigger and a white!" It's funny to me now, not cuz it was so hilarious and clever, but just because it was so idiotic and, well, childish.

Thank the Lord, I only had to endure that for about a yr and a half before we moved back amongst those who looked more like myself, acted like me, and thought (well a few anyway) like me.
×
×
×
×