No, sorry, you ARE a racist

Nicole Valenzi,
New Smyrna Beach, FL.

My experience with race only started really when I entered public school. Until then, I can count on one hand the number of non-white people I interacted with. My mother told me part of the reason she took us out of our sheltered private school was because I pointed to an Indian person and asked if they were black and she realized how negative the seclusion of an all-white (nearly) catholic school really was.
It wasn’t until I was even older that I realized that even my parents and myself were racist. I had to fight to rearrange my thoughts and perceptions (and still do) in order to escape the mentality of “us versus them” that my parents taught me. The worst wakeup call of my life was a conversation with my father and mother, both of which work with and are friends with people of all ethnicities—which I naively took as evidence of their acceptance of races—where my father told me that all the black men being shot in the news ‘probably were thugs anyway’. No person wants to think badly of their parents but in that moment I had to face the fact that no number of racially diverse friends could exclude someone from being a racist. To this day I still find remnants of racism in my own thoughts, I still struggle against initial reactions that were taught to me by the environment I grew up in; every week I talk to my parents and hear them spout the worst sentiments of racism not through slurs or condemnations but through the plain mentality that they are somehow above judgment because they ‘grew up in black neighborhoods’ or ‘hire all sorts of people’.
Therefore, my 6-word race sentence reflects the very simple sentiment I have wanted to scream at so many of my immediate and extended family as well as former friends: ‘No, sorry, you are a racist’. It’s a sentence that I try to hide in arguments against their thoughts, clinging to the hope that they, too, will have an epiphany like I did during my high school years, that they’ll accept that they were wrong and work to right their mentalities.


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