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One Response To "Self-Interrogation On Racism" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   In the first school I went to, the student body was predominantly white, and I thought nothing of it. When I was in fourth grade I moved to Danbury. This student body was a very heterogeneous mixture. I remember my grandmother said to me when I was about to begin that school, "Don't make friends with any black children."

The first girl I met was black and she was new to the school too. She asked if I would be her friend. I thought back to what my grandmother had said and told the girl no. I was suddenly overcome with intensely guilty feelings. Since then I have never denied someone because of his race, and I realized that my grandmother was wrong. She is a product of the ideas and influences of the time she grew up in. I did not grow up in her time.

I still live in Danbury, in the same house I lived in when I moved here. My neighborhood is one of the not-so-desirable ones. The people who live here all have problems. None comes from well-to-do, upper-middle class families. Out of the approximately fifty people who ride my bus, only about eleven or twelve are white.

Believe it or not, I am thankful that I am not well off, and that I live where I live, and am able to come into contact with the people I have. In the time I have lived here, I have conquered many fears and have been able to free my mind from many of the prejudices which inhibit the minds of so many people I know.

Still I think back to the day in fourth grade. Since then, I have committed myself to being completely open-minded to everything. In junior high, however, another comment was thrust at me. This one shook me up. It made me start to doubt myself and what I was really about, what I really believed. My step-father, who is Mexican, threw this one at me. It was right after I had claimed that I was completely unprejudiced and had sought to prove it by pointing out that I had not one white friend. He said, "Just because you have no white friends, because you can hang out with your friends and feel completely comfortable, does not mean that you don't look at them differently. Can you say that you consider them completely equal to yourself?"

In my usual hostile reaction to his questions, I went storming off to my room. This time, however, I could not brush the intensity of the question away, nor could I block it from my mind. Did I see them as equals? Was I being completely honest? It had been five years since fourth grade, I was too old, too smart to have prejudices. Look at me, where I lived, who I hung out with. I never squirm, no matter who I sit next to on the bus. Yet, is there that doubt present? Could it be that I still possess this lingering doubt toward people of other races?

I am now in eleventh grade and still pondering that question. I took a look at my closest friends and realized that I now have two white friends. My other friends are Jewish, Puerto Rican, Indian, Cambodian, and Portuguese; all minorities. I think that I can honestly say that all of my friends are equal to me. However, posed with the question of whether I would be more suspicious of a black man or a white man, I am not sure that I could honestly answer that question the way I'd like. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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hopless dreamer said...
Dec. 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm
woww really good i must say dat was amazing
 
tla501 replied...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm
I'm glad you realize what you did was wrong. I know you just obeyed with what your grandmother said because we are to obey our parent, for they know the best. In this case your grandmother made an unfair judgment. Racism is a big issue, especially in the school system today. I don't agree with it. We all should be treated fairly. Thank you for solving the issue in a good way. 
 
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