I Don't Understand This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 5, 2012
I thrust open the main door and pushed my way through the congested hallway. We had just come from an assembly about Black History Month. As I popped open my locker I heard a voice behind me say, “You know you ain’t nothin’ but a n----- lover.” I whirled around to utter a string of profanities. A familiar face greeted me. At the sight of this long-time “friend,” I froze and swallowed the philippic. The offender simply laughed in my face and walked away.

Dizziness and nausea overwhelmed me. I slammed my locker shut and ran to the bathroom to splash water on face. All through my next class I kept replaying the incident in my mind. My supposed friend since first grade no longer spoke to me, unless making derogatory statements. I just didn’t understand why people placed so much value on the color of skin.

Exiting the room as the bell rang, I spotted my boyfriend leaning against my locker. I walked over to him and found myself welcomed in his strong embrace. We engaged in a short conversation and then parted to make the next class on time. He had restored my confidence and rebuilt my security with his caring words. Then another tidal wave of prejudice crashed and washed away my security. “Once you go black, you don’t go back. He’ll probably pull another O.J.,” sneered a boy I had never seen before.

My best friend walked by and told me not to forget the party tomorrow night. I wouldn’t forget – how could I? Everybody was going as couples. But, my boyfriend wasn’t allowed in the house because his skin had more pigment than mine. I yelled back that I had other plans with my boyfriend.

My mother raised me to believe that all people are equal. For 15 years I had never directly experienced racism. I knew that racism existed but I never knew what it felt like, until I started going out with a black male. I’ve been in this relationship for a year and never been happier. Some people say it’s only our parents’ generation who disapproves of inter-racial dating. They say it’s only their parents who won’t allow me in their house. But as I walk through the halls in school and hear racial slurs, I know they’re wrong. I don’t understand prejudice and I never will. My encounters with racism have left me wondering if America will ever be truly the United States.

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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