Learned about race FEAR at 13.

Jay Bailinson
Napa, CA

In lived in Oakland CA. during preteen and early teen years. I belonged to a Boys Club sponsored by the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Oakland’s China town area. I played on sport teams in a church leagues sponsored by this church. I was one of two white boys on the team and in the club. An important part of our practices (or especially after winning a game) was to go out and eat. One Friday night after basketball practice we were going to a hamburger place in East Oakland, Six boys in the back seat of the coache’s “clunker” and two up front with him. When we got to the hamburger place we piled out being loud, happy, goofy early teenage boys. A group of white older young men was hanging out near one of the picnic tables. As we approached they started yelling racial slurs. The one that I remember clearly was “hey Chinks, go back to China”. I had this almost sick Chinese either. I didn’t belong. It hurt that my friends were being insulted by guys with the same color skin as mine. I didn’t do anything. My friends will now think I’m like the yelling guys. I returned to the car. Sat in the back seat feeling sick, apart and lonely. 15 minutes later all the boys returned to the car with our coach. Got in with all the food. Piled into the back seat, surrounding me with hamburger/french fry filled bags and goofy teenage boy silliness. Nothing had changed for us. I was still Jay. Part of the team and one of the guys. Yet in the core of my being on that night I learned what race fear was. Our coach who was also a youth pastor, talked with me later privately. I don’t remember the words, just the feeling of being loved, accepted and honored as a person.

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