Neil’s Story

My first short-lived romance was when I was three or four years old with a little girl I met in the mall. We called each other girlfriend and boyfriend while our parents watched us play and hold hands. Without the photograph I don’t think my parents would have ever told me my first girlfriend was black. My parents always referred to people as people not as their race. This probably has a lot to do with why I did not see racial identity as a young child. It is not strange to me that my first pretend relationship was with someone of a different racial identity, but it is interesting that I didn’t even recognize a difference.

After I first heard someone refer to a person as black, I asked my mother what I was. My mother told me that I was white and I become upset and confused. I adamantly refused to be white and instead insisted that I was pink. The binary black/white opposition of race did not make sense to me as a child who was confident in a knowledge of primary and secondary colors.

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