Life in a small town, racism and a story I'd like to share.

United States
October 15, 2008 2:13pm CST
I have a story to share... Once upon a time, I was a kid growing up in a small town. My family life was a little rough and I was a little shy. I found, however, a nice friend in Kindergarten and her name was Patty. Patty was a very nice girl and we would play together at recess. None of the other kids seemed to like her. Once I was invited over to her house and I met her father. He was a big tall black man. Dark black. I looked at him with interest. See, in my small town, I hadn't seen any black men. Now, there were black people on Sesame Street, but they also had blue fuzzy monsters. After a moment, I turned and went back to playing with Patty. It didn't matter to me one tiny little bit if her dad was black, white, or purple. She was my friend. I got it in my head on May Day to make a heart basket out construction paper and fill it with wildflowers. (These are also known as weeds, but she didn't seem to mind.) Turns out her Father was really her step father. That would have made sense to me at the time if I had any idea about genetics and inheritance. See, Patty was as white as I was. Patty's mother had re-married and married a black man. (At the time, African American wasn't the term used.) Patty and her family moved away after a little bit. I don't know for sure how long. I was told that the townsfolk had 'run them out of town.' It would take some time to piece together things.. how people might not like 'mixed' couples and all that. But, the point of the story here isn't if they were really run out of town or not. I was never able to check up on that. No, the point of the story is that as a kid I believed it was possible for my friend to be run out of town because her mother remarried a man with darker skin. (And, he wasn't just any old thug.. he was, in fact, the town deputy.) If I had not had this experience, I might have been a racist, too. I was raised in a small town and neither my father nor my siblings seem particularly fair-minded. I like to think I have a kinder heart than that, but perhaps my ideas of racial fairness trace back to this one little experience and what it meant to me.
2 people like this
5 responses
@lilybug (21182)
• United States
15 Oct 08
Huh...did we grow up in the same town? I remember something similar happening when I was a kid. I was not friends with the kid, but I remember hearing from some people that a black guy had gotten run out of town once. I managed to escape from my childhood in a family full of racists in a town full of racist without being prejudice.
3 people like this
• United States
16 Oct 08
Escaping a childhood family of racists without prejudice is a great step forward. It shouldn't be a hard thing for a person to grow to recognize ignorance for what it it. Perhaps, I am unfair to my brothers.. but they do seem to have strong preconceived notions. I might be wrong, however, time might have mellowed them. And, to be honest, one of my brothers did date (for awhile) a woman who's family came from Cuba. Perhaps I'm not giving him enough credit.
1 person likes this
@ersmommy1 (12605)
• United States
16 Oct 08
I did not grow up in a small town. So, I cannot imagine having an experience like that. I am glad you turned out as nice as you seem. Fair, and level -headed. I believe it is better to view people by their actions than anything else.
2 people like this
• United States
16 Oct 08
That is very nice of you to say. Hope you are having a good morning.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Oct 08
I like your story. You have a good heart. I grew up in a predominant caucasian community, where there were few african americans, hispanics, etc etc. My brother and I were not racist at all, but when we did something wrong, racial slurs were always thrown our way, and sadly we had quite a few friends. I believed everyone was "HUMAN" and regardless of where my "great,great, grandfather came from" - WHO CARES?????? Didn't all of our great great grandfathers come from somewhere? America is the melting pot of everywhere! I was born here, legally! And sadly in many small towns all over, racism is still a problem. For all kinds of people. But thank you for being the person you are.
2 people like this
• United States
16 Oct 08
I would agree with that "who should care?" People make arbitrary distinctions, even among religion as an excuse to treat one group as less than another. I keep hoping that the world will keep getting better on this issue.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152380)
• Garden Grove, California
15 Oct 08
hi 'daddyofthe rose I too had a childhoodof experiences that made me really non racist. My classmates in my small South Dakota town were german, norwegiian, scandinavian, mexican,finish, and caucasian, and you know, the colors of our skins didnt mean 'sh** at all. we were all just kids, and we liked each other and played the same games. I had to grow up and hear people being damned fool racists to even know what it meant. We didnt have any African Americans in our town, but we were in a very cold climate too.Since then I have rubbed shoulders with a number of black people too, and again it makes me no neve mind. people are people.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Oct 08
I think it is good to be able to appraise people for the type of person they are instead of superficial descriptors like skin color. Have a good day, Hatley.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Oct 08
That was something I didn't know about you. Thanks for sharing.