Grew up in Birmingham in the 1960′s. My father never gave me cause to judge anyone else because of skin color. He always emphasized that it was the content of their character that really mattered. When I turned 16 one of my good friends introduced me to his family, his neighborhood, his culture. Often times I’d be with him in a social setting and I’d be the only person of my color in the room, on the street, or in the neighborhood.
He introduced me to “the look”. This was how people looked at us, a couple of teenagers, one black, one white. We’d walk into a restaurant, or a store, and people would give us “the look”. Generally the look was one of revulsion, or hatred. I was astonished the first time he queued me for the experience. After a while I became used to it. It became easier to stand defiant in our relationship, taking a stand for racial equality.
These experiences were priceless in forming my character. Over the many years I’ve had to stand up for my friends, no matter what race, no matter the skin color. I am grateful for my father, and I am grateful for my friend. Just for the record, my skin color is white, my friend’s skin color is black.