Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Racist Kids And The Chameleon

Stemming from my adoption…I will give you a bit of a back story on me.

My natural mother is white and natural father is black (making me…an Oreo.) I was adopted in 1967, when I was 10 days old by a very loving couple (both white.) They already had one daughter and then had a miscarriage, so they decided to adopt me. Now, I can’t say how I felt then…cuz I was tiny little thing that only knew to cry, poo and eat. What I can say is that we lived in rural New Hampshire…where everything (except the leaves in the Fall) was white. Oh….but not me…I was/am more of a caramel. Anyway, life was good, at least from where I sat and in my baby world.

As I got a bit older (5 or 6), I started to experience racism…and this was even before I really knew what it was. I obviously knew that I looked different than EVERYONE…but I just thought that everyone WAS different…some pale, some pinkish, some fat, some skinny, some had black hair, some blonde, etc. I guess that I never really brought it up cuz I thought my skin was a bit darker. Boy it would be great if everyone had my 6 year old attitude. Soon after going into first grade and coming home from school with stories of people being mean and not seeing anyone else that looked anything like me, my mother sat me down for a discussion.

My mother told me that (in a longer, more descriptive way) that I was adopted and that one of my natural parents was black. At the time…I guess that was enough…now I knew why I was different. The community that we lived in was completely white. Iwas the only person of colorin the entire school at that point. My mother then told me that if people were being mean to me, that I should immediately tell my teacher or the principal. At the time…that sounded good to me, figuring that the teachers would straighten things out.

As time went on, kids were still mean and basically ignored me…unless they were picking on me. I told the teachers a few times, but the message that I got from them was, “kids this age can be mean…you have to just get used to it.”

In second and third grades, things got worse. There was more of the same nagging and kids making fun of me as well as a lot of pushing and instigating trouble. It was in third grade when I got into my first real fight. It was not what one would think of third graders, it was me trying to defend myself against several boys throwing punches and calling me “nigger.” After I thoroughly got thrashed, I did go to the principal’s office to report the fight and the boys who were responsible. The principal flipped through a book and then looked over at me before stating that there have been a lot of “reports” of trouble that included me. Then he proceeded to tell me that I would be in serious trouble if there were any more.

I knew, from that point on that the teachers and the principal would be of no help to me. I did not want to tell my parents because I knew that they would call the principal and then I would be in worse trouble. Now, looking back on this…it was some pretty intense thought for a 9 year old. After that first fight, the fights became a regular thing. I came to expect that I would spend my recess either hiding or fighting. At that point, I did not want to call on my older sister or younger brother for “back up, cuz I did not want them to have to endure what I was going through and did not want them to have to fight my battles for me. I knew that this had to be figured our by me…and me alone.



Insane Mama said...

Babe, what can I say? We have talked about it..yes. But I didn't know you were ready to post about it... You are so brave. Very brave and I love you!

Deb said...

i look forward to reading the rest. i enjoy learning more about the people i read. gives ya a little more insight, ya know?
sounds like you had a rough time though and i hate that for you.

ugagirl30 said...

I can't say that I understand the racism part of it, but I also don't understand why kids are so cruel at such a young age? My son doesn't look at other kids and make fun of them. But he is so concerned about what he wears or how is hair is because he doesn't want to be picked on. They wear uniforms to school, and kids still get picked on. And the teachers here have been awful in handling problems. They consider it tattling. I hereby vow that I will be a different kind of teacher, and my children will be different kind of kids (or else get reemed!)

Lula! said...

My nephew's mother is black. My brother is, obviously, white. And my daughters? Well, they think everyone in the world has a "light brown" cousin, just as they do. Our eldest has never questioned it, and never wanted to know why her cousin's mommy is "dark skinned," and think it's just brilliant.

The instant some fool of a child or adult tries to change this, I'll be one Insane Mama, too!

I'm so sorry you had this experience...and here I thought this really only happened in the deep south. My world is so small...

'That Girl' said...

Terrible experience, I'm sorry you had to go through that..Looking back I see so many situations in my childhood that could have been fixed if I had known I could have gone to an adult for help. I feel one of my biggest jobs as a parent is for my sons to know that I WILL and CAN help with anything.

T said...

My 6 year old still has that attitude.. Everybody is just different and some skin colors are just different than others. Even her sister's skin is olive compared to her (and my) pale white skin. I do wish everyone could see people like that.

I grew up in Louisiana and the reason I left was due to too much racism. The reason I chose Dallas was because it was the first time in my life that I witness a black man and a white man walking together in a public place. Sad, but true.

I wasn't even allowed to have black friends though, in school, being white was a minority. I knew, even at 7 years old, that something wasn't right.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Molly said...

Can you go back to being a 6 year old for a minute so that I can just scoop you up and hug you? This is so sad and unfortunately it happens a lot. My nephew's dad is black but the city I come from in England is so multi cultural, there is only actually one white person at his kindergarten. My son's father is Mexican but he really takes after me and only in the summer time can you tell he is not altogether white. I wish children were not so cruel, I wish they had parents who taught them to accept everyone, and I hope you still don't go through this racism now as an adult. Again, can you be little so I can just hug you and make you feel better?!

cIII said...

Just started reading you and Insane Mama. Great stuff! I was ill prepared for how heavy your (as well as IM's) subject matter would be. I am full of Joy that you two found each other. Peace to you both.
p.s. I am also a camper of the tent variety who put his boot print mostly in the Great Smoky Mountains. You guys should check 'em out.

The Mom said...

I'm mexican and because I had white friends I lived being taunted and threatened as a kid and called a coconut. Can we stop the hate for our own kids? I sure damn hope so.

Dirty White boy said...

I had this weird childhood, and I figured at the point where we ran away from home and didnt talk to foster people nor authorities for 3 weeks, and my mom couldnt exactly find us (wondering to this day if she even tried) to the point in my life where I realized we were different because we were white trash thugs, is about the time I realized, Whatever didnt kill me, would only make me stronger.
I think everyone that doesnt live in a perfect world should take that phillosophy (i spellled that wrong, and i dont care lol)

I like your blog..i will be back!

Swirl Girl said...

Kids just suck sometimes. I am about the same age. Grew up in Massachusetts outside of Boston. In early 70's, there was METCO busing the city kids to the burbs for school. I never knew from racism. But met it...bizarro world style. I was totally beat by two girls (whose names I still vividly remember as well the sting of their scratches and punches) for being white and jewish. They dragged me under the stairs and beat me silly. I was not one to tattle or defend myself. I just took it , day after day. Never told anyone until many years later.

I still don't know why they did it to me. I guess in their defense, they had something to prove. They prayed on the weaker kid (me). What they managed to do, was make a young girl wary and sometimes afraid of the differences in people rather tolerant.

In my defense, I learned at that early age to regard stereotypes as somewhat truthful..and for that I hate those two girls.

Wonder where Robyn and Aileen are now?

preTzel said...

I hate bullies and I hate adults that do nothing about bullies. I don't like to call kids names but I do call bullies bastards (male) and bitches (female) because I hate bullies.

Did I mention I hate bullies?


Karen said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through that as a kid.

Racism exists in NZ, however, I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I came to the US.

I also found myself a target. Apparntly, to some, I look Hispanic and as a result, I've had some pretty nasty things said to me.

It's really sad...

Rhea said...

Oh man, I can't believe you had to go through that. It makes me so sad. :o(

I like the term oreo though. lol Sounds yummy. Caramel does too. All these terms have to do with food, I wonder why?


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