I don’t fit in “your” box.

I grew up “out of the box”.
Box 1: I grew up in Ithaca, NY.
Box 2: I lived in a small neighborhood five miles from the center of the city. We lived in a modest size house on a quarter acre lot. There were 5 house and one trailer on my part of the street. The largest house, split level home, with a basement, grapes for wine, and a 2 car garage (the only one on the street), was owned by a Black family. The granddaughters were our playmates, and my older sister and I loved it when they would visit; we finally had children to play with, and they were our age.
Box 3: At home I was raised by my Puerto Rican mother and White father. In the 80’s assimilation was key. As far as we knew, we were 100% White. Our loud mother ruled the house. We ate chicken and rice, with red/pink beans and potatoes. Our standard seasoning: Adobo.
Box 4: For Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve we would visit with my mom’s family. My cousins, were two Black girls, but to us, they were just our cousins.
Box 5: When I was finally old enough to go to school my Principal was Mr. Ouckama, an extraordinary Black man.
So this box I’m always taught about, the one where Black people need to be saved, the one where Black people need to be educated, the one where Black people need White people, is not my box. The base of my childhood was surrounded by great people, that indirectly taught me a lot about tolerance and justice by simply being themselves.


Tweets by Michele Norris