Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

Growing Up White

I don't know what jogged my memory, but I woke up this morning feeling the need to write about my racist attitudes, and how I was affected by Growing Up White.

I grew up in Levittown and Wantagh, NY, an all-white suburb of NYC. There were no blacks in the entire school district -- students or teachers. There was a rumor that the other high school had a Chinese student, but I never actually saw him. I saw blacks and orientals when we went into the city to visit relatives, and I remember playing with some black kids outside my cousin's apartment once, but I didn't know anyone who wasn't white.

I lived there till I was almost 15.

When we moved to Seattle, it was to a school which boasted the exact same racial demographics  as the US as a whole. Blacks, several flavors of orientals, hispanics, Native Americans, Eskimos, Canadians, all those exotic races.

It did not faze me a bit. I made friends and enemies equally amongst all of them. People are people, skin color makes them easier to tell apart, is all.

So how come I grew up so white and so unprejudiced?

I don't know. Maybe because I didn't know any bad examples of people of other races until I was old enough to know not to associate a person's actions with a person's color. My parents never said anything either way about any particular race, and steered us away from relatives who did.

When we moved to Seattle, the day before school started, I was home when the phone rang, and it was my younger sister's teacher calling to introduce herself (we had moved at winter break), and to ask my mother if it was a problem if she sat my sister  next to a black girl. My mom told her it would have been a problem if she didn't do that. My sister and the black girl became inseparable. Well, at least until the Latisha's house was eminent domained so I-5 could be built there. But they are still in touch today, 41 years later, and 3,000 miles apart. My older sister had a crush on a black boy in her class, and Ed became a friend of mine as well. I hated this one black kid in algebra, because he was a dick. It never occurred to me to sling racial epithets at him, calling him a dick was good enough, and more to the point. My heart throb in high school was Mary Tahara, flute player in the band and Japanese American. I thought it was kind of different that when I went over to her house her Mom didn't really speak English, but I had great aunts and great uncles whose English was more a mixture of Yiddish and Russian, so no value judgment there.

I'll admit that if I see a gang of black teenagers on the street I may feel threatened, but that would be if they were acting threatening, and I'd feel the same way about a gang of threatening-acting goth girls too.
 
I'll stop here before this turns into a ramble.

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