I didn’t know they were different.

Tina S. Walther,
Milan, MI.

My mother was pregnant with me when she moved from upstate NY to the south in 1962. While the weather was nice the surroundings were challenging – especially for a white, woman, Catholic, with no accent and someone not willing to have a maid or gardener. So it was time for me to begin kindergarden and the local priest came to visit and ask my mother to put me in the Catholic school. My mother agreed on one condition – that I be put in the 1st grade at the age of 5 as she felt I was mature enough to handle it. The priest held to the agreement and I began the first grade and continued to attend the school until I moved to the public school system. Years later, many years later, when I was 40 years old my mother shared with me that the reason she put me in the Catholic school was because the priest was trying to integrate the school as all the students were black – I was the very first white student. Funny thing was “I didn’t know they were different” from me. They were just kids that I would learn to play, share and grow with. Racism is a taught behavior – make sure to exposure your children to all races and types of people at a young age as building relationships of trust and respect are the only things that will help them fight the deluge of stereotyping that they will encounter the rest of their lives! I give thanks for my mother and grandfather who taught me the art of seeing a person’s soul instead of their color, status, clothing, or lack of education. In the end we are all chasing the same dream – to love and to be loved.

 

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