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My mother and I at one of our favorite spots.
Being young, black and southern must be synonymous with experiences of discrimination, fear and hatred. Show me a young, black southerner who hasn’t had to deal with direct racism and I’ll show you a severely unaware individual.
With that being said, one of my earliest memories of racism came Halloween 1997. My mom had allowed me to go trick or treating with some kids who lived in a local housing project. My mother had taught the girl and she was close to my age.
In our small town America, (voted best small town to visit btw) has always been and still is divided by a railroad. For their reasons, white people prefer to live separate from us. And even when black doctors and judges moved into their neighborhoods, they either move, or erect an enormous, thick cinderblock wall to serve as a fence.
My mother had dropped me off with this girl, her mother and a few other children. Her mother had said we were going trick or treating on the “other” side of town, noting that they had “better” candy; however, I’m sure there was a thought about it possibly being safer as well.
We stopped at an apartment building really close to Delta State University. Our small group walked up to this door and knocked. An old white, lady with grey hair opened the door. When she saw us, her mouth gapped open and she began throwing candy at us. She yelled, “yall are not supposed to be over here!” Then, somehow she noticed me. A little fair-skinned (I was much lighter when I was younger) girl with long, wavy hair (likely from my mother’s long “dookey” braids) and she paused for a moment. She gave a sort of blank stare, and slammed the door shut.
LOVE THAT SWEATSHIRT!
This was one of the first moments that I realized how deep and serious this divid really was. It made me wonder. Why did she hate us so much? Was she scared? If so, why? We were just children hunting for candy. We weren’t trying to harm or scare anyone. This was when I started to realize that not all black children had the same experience. A part of me wondered why she paused and stared at me, before forcefully shutting her door.
This was a defining moment. It was when I began to realize I must be aware of my surroundings. I must be aware of myself, and how others may perceive me. As a 7 year old, I must prove that there is nothing to be afraid of. #doubleconsciousness