Lillian J. Hall,
I was a freshman in college. I was sitting in the dining hall with a friend, near a window. It was “Texas Day”. The theme was obvious by the bails of hay, western-wear-clad employes and of course, barbecue on the menu. My friend and I were chatting, when all of a sudden two middle-aged men dressed in Confederate-era uniforms were passing by outside. The one that lagged slightly behind looked at me, looked at my friend, then stopped. He was a big guy. Burly. He backed up, turned his body to face me, propped his foot on the window ledge, and prominently displayed his rifle on his knee. Then came the staring contest. I stared at him. He stared at me. I refused to look away, ignoring my friend’s pleas. The other “soldier’ finally grabbed the burly one by the elbow and dragged him away. The smirk he had seemed like a badge of honor. He was quite amused.
That was when I realized I was black.
Granted, I went to all-black schools from elementary to high school. I chose a predominantly white school in west Texas that had a 1% population of black students. My friend, by the way, was biracial, but could “pass” as white. I went to my dorm and cried and vowed to never be intimidated by a white man again. The hatred that one encounter produced should have ruined me, but it didn’t. My great-grandfather was white. He had five children with my great-grandmother in rural east Texas at the turn of the 20th century. He allowed them all to call him ‘daddy’ in public. He was not ashamed. The society he lived in was and they burned down my great-grandmother’s house to prove it. Enough in my life has happened to cause me to hate one group or another. I made a choice to accept people as I receive them. Have you made that choice?