The first time I became aware of my race was in pre-school when I was four years old. The pre-school was in a suburban town outside of Boston, MA in the early 1990’s. I was the only black student in my class, and one of the only black students in the entire school. I remember always feeling like an outcast not only because I did not look like everyone else, but also because the other kids treated me that way. Even the teachers seemed to treat me a bit differently than the other kids. I was too young to really understand “racism” or black vs. white, but I could fathom that something made me different, but I was not quite sure how or why. One day in particular I remember quite vividly. It was after art class that I went to wash the paint off of my hands at the sink. There were two (white) girls standing at the sink talking amongst one another. As I washed my hands, they said, “If you wash your hands long enough, maybe you’ll turn white.” Then they snickered and walked away. At that moment I realized exactly why I was different and treated the way I was—because I wasn’t white. I felt ashamed and inferior, like I wasn’t as good as everyone else. Instead of coming to understand race and skin color as a physical trait or unique characteristic, I believed that white was the ideal and the norm. I believe that my initial negative experiences with race definitely impacted the way in which I perceived race and what it meant to be black. Even when I went to other schools and had white friends, in the back of my mind I still wondered if they looked at me as lesser. As I grew older I realized that everyone was not like my pre-school classmates, but I still found great comfort in seeing people of different races intermix.
- Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White
- “Aunt” or “Ant?” It’s Not a Black and White Issue
- Chinese or Blonde? How About Both?
- Race Discrimination: “Is It My Fault?”
- Black in the Supermarket Checkout Line
- Boy, Am I Glad I’m White!
- Returning Land to the “Brown People”
- The Toddler Color Association Game
- Jordan’s Story
- Neil’s Story
- So….I’m Not White?
- Racial Profiling
- Kate’s Story
- The Color of Peanut Butter
- The Color of Breakfast
- Black and White
- The Sesame Street Connection
- Learning Racial Inferiority
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