I remember riding the bus to school when I was in first grade and I had my first boyfriend, his name was Michael and he was of color and my sister and I were the only white kids in the school. Michael and I sat across from each other and I remember those glances and smiles back and forth and then one day Michael followed behind me on the bus and sat next to me. We were so innocent and blind to racism and we would laugh and giggle and play thumbsies as we bounced up and down as the bus hit the bumps in the road.
I told my grandmother how I had a boyfriend and his name was Michael and he lived down the road. I was unaware that my grandmother paid his mother to do ironing for her and I didn’t know that she was his mom. My grandmother told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to have him as a boyfriend and I was no longer allowed to sit with him on the bus. All she told me is he was “black and we stick with our own kind”. I didn’t understand what she meant but I do know I listened to her or she would make me get a switch off the tree and beat my white ass beat red.
This is how racism is passed from generation to generation and my grandmother was from the south so she was quite prejudice. As I got older I had my grandmother live with me and we were watching tv one evening and Michael Jackson was on and my grandmother said “I hate that greazy (not greasy) nigger”. She never spoke of why she hated people of color and I never asked but could only react in shock and then laughter because to hear her talk like that was funny to me, it’s like hearing your grandmother say fuck, it just doesn’t happen.
I do not look at a person’s color but what the person’s moral fiber is made of and I believe people are people and some are opportunists and like to use race as a cop out. I still hear the “because I am black” remarks and I do not buy the race card because no matter how hard your life is you can turn it around with drive and ambition. There is nothing we cannot accomplish if we dream big and go after that dream and color is no longer an acceptable escape as far as I am concerned.