Hidden between fields of corn is my hometown. I live in the country. Don’t get me wrong, the rural area is breathtaking, especially during the sunsets. In addition, it’s the natural habitat of cows, hunters, and far-right conservatives. Small towns take pride in maintaining the traditions that America was ‘built upon’. How do they manage to keep everything frozen in time? They shun anything and everything that’s different. I was adopted into this stagnant pond of people by a loving mother- she hadn’t intended to give me problems. However, being half-black in a town where everyone else is white and stubborn to change would obviously pose issues for me throughout my life.
I specifically remember racist things being said to me by teachers and students when I was young. My peers didn’t know any better, they were just repeating what kids said and teachers reinforced. But the adults… How shameful of them to turn kids against someone because of skin color and origin. My kindergarten teacher told me that I would most likely end up in jail because of my race. Kids told me that my skin was ugly and my hair was weird just because it was different. The worst part of my elementary school experience was, it was so anti-black, I feared black people. I thought innocent black boys would shoot me whenever I went to the city with my mom.
As I grew up, I began to have a deep understanding of race. Deeper than half of the people in my town. While they would say something along the lines of “this is the way it’s always been”, I’d say, “Race is a concept invented by humans to manipulate and control people, and needs to be undone”. I enforced my beliefs by forgetting about race all together. I made it a necessity to always look at a person’s eyes before I looked at their skin color. When I did that, I was less judgmental. I don’t know what made me change my view… It was like an epiphany, but instead of all coming at once, it slowly fell together over the years.
The same thing apparently happened to my peers, as well. Now that I’m in high school, kids in my school don’t openly discriminate against me for being mixed. Also, more and more kids of different backgrounds are making waves in the pond that is my town. Why do parents still give me dirty looks when they see me? Why am I called one of “the black ones”by elders who don’t care to know my name? Because adults where I come from are too weak to deal with change. Instead of empowering the next generation to be better than the last, they rob us by making us feel like our ideas don’t make sense and would never work because that’s the way it’s always been. Change is good and is needed. The world is changing rapidly around them, and they don’t understand that they’re being left behind.
Image downloaded from indianapublicmedia.org