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The Stories Less Told: Anwatin Students Reflect on Race

May 12, 2012

“A few years back, being a young black boy just hungry, I had a few dollars and went to the store.  The store was only a few blocks away, so it didn’t take that long to get there.  Once I got there, I looked around for something that I could eat for a snack.  There was one thing I noticed, ever since I got in the store. The cashier had his eyes on me the whole time.  I wanted to know, but didn’t ask.  Then I thought about it and realized that he thought I was going to steal something just because of the color of my skin.  I bought my snacks and walked out.  As I walked out, he watched and watched until I was gone.”  Zadir King, 6th grade

“It was my first day of kindergarten.  I was five years old.  My teacher’s name was Mr. Latofsky.  He was a Caucasian male.  For our first activity, we shared about our families.  He told us that he had two children, a boy and a girl.  I imagined that they were white like their father, just like I was black like my parents, but to my surprise, they were black.  I didn’t understand that.  I raised my hand and said, “How can your children be black if you’re white?”  I didn’t know any better.  Mr. Latofsky was very understanding.  He pulled me aside and explained that his children were black, because he had adopted them from Africa.  I thought that was so cool.  I admired Mr. Latofsky for that.  Ever since then, I’ve never let race be a barrier or roadblock for me.  I thank Mr. Latofsky for that.”  Shameelah Abdullah, 8th grade

“The ‘Wake Up’ play (by Central Touring Theatre) really touched me.  I realized that in order to get a good life, we need to get a good education.  If we want to eliminate stereotypes, we have to prove the other people wrong and show them we are better than what they think.”  Lorena Benitez, 8th grade

“When I was little, I always wondered why I was the only one in class with color.  Some classmates never wanted to play with me at recess.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  I was quiet and did my work.  I paid attention and was a good kid, but some kids also were nice to me and treated me with respect and were my friends.  I didn’t get it, but now that I’m older and have learned about my race, I understand.”  Azhae’la Hanson, 8th grade

“Racism had been a huge problem in this world for many people.  As racism starts to increase, people of all races should realize that the Creator of us made us to be different for a reason.  And that reason is for us to know one another and for us to know our background.  We are of different races, and that shouldn’t be a problem, because in the end, we are the same as others.  We are all humans with a different color race to show our own beauty.”  Kristy Yang, 8th grade

“Why would anyone be racist to a harmless little girl?  Well, I guess no one was.  Racism was never on the forefront of my mind.  I didn’t think about it when I was young.  It wasn’t until middle school that I encountered it.  And through some of my best friends, no less.  It started out small.  All my friend said was, “You look so white in these glasses!”  I was taken aback.  She had the nerve to look me in the eye, say it, and hold my gaze, unbashful.  I stared her down.  Finally, she smiled and said, ‘sorry.’  But I didn’t see anything funny at all.  It escalated from there.  People would throw out small comments like that, not ever considering that maybe white people don’t want all the lame, uncool stuff associated with them.  So what if you see white people do, say or wear something that people unlike them don’t?  Do you really have to classify it with them?  Call them out on it and pretend that they’re okay with it?!  No. No longer.  I hate it when someone white says something, and someone of Hispanic, Asian, or African descent says, ‘Oh wow, you would say that!’  And you say, ‘Say what?’  And they reply, that ‘it’s just so white!’ and they laugh.”  Reggie Markert, 7th grade

“Many white people feel good or lucky because they do not have colored skin, but I think white people start racism, because they think they have all the power and right to do whatever they feel like, but other countries are suffering and most white people really don’t care.  Colored people have lots of problems and try to fix them, but white people just lose their heads and don’t do anything about it.  I think that white people don’t get attention, so they go make someone feel bad, so the white people don’t get judged.”  Anonymous

“On my Mom’s side of the family, I’m the darkest person when we all get together.  On my Dad’s side, I’m almost always the lightest.  When I was little, I always wanted just to be just one color, but now that I’m older, I love being unique when I’m around my family.  Being around my Dad’s famiy and my Mom’s is very different.  Food is different, conversations are different, actions and many other things are different.  But I don’t feel like I change when I’m around one or the other.”  Taya Bumphurs, 7th grade

“I have a friend named Anna.  She’s African American, otherwise known as black.  One day I was going to my Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  (Or as me and my sister call them, Nany and Baba.)  We were sitting at the dining room table eating dinner when my sister said, ‘I don’t like black people.’  We all stopped eating and stared at her.  ‘Don’t say that, Audrey,’ Nany said.  Audrey backed down in shame.  ‘Anna’s black,’ I said.  ‘No, she isn’t.  She’s brown,’ Audrey replied.  And then we realized:  Audrey was only five years old, and she didn’t know that when we’re talking about race, black means African American.  Or in Audrey’s world, brown.”  Eloise Boigenzahn, 6th grade

“I remember when I was a little kindergartner who was very shy and not that bright.  I went into the classroom and didn’t speak a single word until I met one of my first-ever friends, John.  John was shorter than me, but he was crazy and fun to be around.  After him, I met Preston–same like John, fun to be around.  John was the first person I met who was white.  And Preston was the first mixed person I met.  Those two were my best friends, and they still are today.”  Cobe Burch, 6th grade

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