This is an excerpt from a post first published at AnythingUrban.
I recall living in a predominately white neighborhood for a short time as a youngster. On the surface, social life was fine for me and my two younger sisters; we played with a large number of children that lived in the area — most of them were white.
But behind the curtains, the parents of these children were not so comfortable. Why? Because we were Black?
My family never received a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift. But ultimately, we did receive something that really hurt — a petition.
Several families in the area decided to flex their racist muscles by mobilizing and voicing their displeasure towards us, hoping that this would pressure us to move. The petition asked us to do just that — move.
I don’t know if folks were trying to protect their property value, their property itself, or if they simply could no longer stomach the anger as they watched their kid play with…us. We ended up moving away from the neighborhood. At the time, my mom never explained to me and my sisters why we left.
I recently read about an incident where Black students were under siege on a daily basis by racist schoolmates. There was constant intimidation, from threats of “lynching” to the N-word etched on the walls of bathroom stalls.
The story is a sad one, but it especially angers me because as I grew up in the 70’s, often in segregated schools, I never experienced racism on any large scale in grade school, middle or high school. So now I’m thinking, are race relations getting worse? Does this incident represent just how much more work we still need to do to combat racism and bigotry?
Stories like this remind me that while we may not be able to reach and teach all, we can never underestimate how important it is to simply speak up and talk about it.
As our family packed our bags to move, it never occurred to me to ask Mom why. But as a 9-year-old, I wonder if it would have helped me to know…that I would be treated differently because of the color of my skin. Sometimes I just don’t think so.
Ron Eldridge is the publisher of AnythingUrban.com. He has also written for Essence.com and RollingOut.com.