you know that feeling when you leave the movie theater in the middle of a sunny afternoon? your eyes are oversensitive to the bright light after spending a couple of hours in the dark, cozy theater.

image credit: nattavut

that's kind of how i felt when i was first exposed to prejudice and racism. for the first 14 years of my life i was an army brat. home was where the army sent us - my parents, sister and i made friends wherever home was. race didn't seem to be a primary issue because everyone was green. that's not to say that race was obsolete. (in fact, in the army-issued dictionary my dad had, the entry for nigger defined a black person of african descent.) however, race was not as big of a deal because we were all just people being moved around so our dads (and/or moms) could serve a country that not always viewed people as equals.

fast-forward to about the time i was 16 or 17 and driving my first car. i was in the parking lot of a shopping center in arlington, texas and no doubt made a typical driving error for a new driver. i didn't hit anyone or any property. but i had to quickly adjust for the mistake i made which, understandably, irritated the older, white man in a nearby pick-up truck. before i could even attempt to apologize he rolled down his window and informed me that i was a nigger bitch who needed to learn how to drive.

and that was my introduction to racism.

about that same time, my kid sister was in the fourth or fifth grade. she was having a little difficulty making new friends in the "civilian world." one of her classmates told her she'd have better luck - if she were only the right color. and that was her introduction.

sigh. welcome to the real world. the sun is blinding.

so, my exposure was delayed. but when i finally met racism and prejudice, i kind of got over exposed because i'd been in the dark for so long. i'm thankful for my time as a naive child. but now that i know what the real world is really like, i hope to be part of the change i seek. and this is why i share stories about race - those of others and those that are personal. because knowledge and perspective is power. if we can just put ourselves in the other person's shoes, the world might, indeed, be a better place for us all to live.

be empathetic,
the girl with the sunglasses and still standing in the light

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 21, 2013 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 lovely comments:

    Laura said...

    Thanks for sharing. I'm so sorry that some people are so filled with hate. It makes my heart heavy with hurt. I've seen the impact our institutional racism has with my own children, who haven't entered grade school yet. They attend a very diverse day care, but one has still expressed a preference for lighter skinned people. Granted, this was in the context of Disney Princesses (with which I have other issues), but it was alarming. I had a frank conversation with her about skin color, but it is too little resistance against all the societal cues that underlie her preference. We have to continue the struggle against prejudice.

  1. ... on Sunday, July 21, 2013  
  2. melyssa said...

    Thank you for your comment, Laura. It is a struggle, but one worth fighting. I think fighting will improve things for future generations.

  3. ... on Sunday, July 21, 2013