I grew up in a very divided household when it comes down to the words race and racism. When I 7 my parents divorced, I moved in with my mother and she began dating, 9 months rolls around and she is pregnant by her then boyfriend, now husband. This man was your very stereotypical redneck Kentuckian, him and my father are complete opposites, it was very odd to me that my mother had picked him of all people to be with. Fast forward a bit, and I had the opportunity spend some time with my friend Darius and his brother. We were 8 years old and went to elementary school together. We were a mirror of each other in personality, humor, imagination, you name it, that was us, our only difference was skin color. I brought Darius over to play basketball one day in my backyard, we made it two steps in through the front gate and I hear the front door fly open. “Drew! Get your ass in this house now” says the redneck bear my mother had just married, “yes sir I respond”. This is when I am at a loss for words, I knew Darius and I looked different and that was all, I hadn’t yet experienced racism at this point in my life. Prior to the last 10 or so months, my parents had friends of all shapes, sizes and colors in our home. “We don’t let n*****s in our yard boy!” was the first thing that was said to me, my jaw almost hit the floor, this word, I had never heard this word, but I could immediately feel all the hate that backed it up. A six letter word that threw me completely off guard. “Tell his black ass to get the fuck off my property, and when your ass comes back in, we are gonna have a serious talk, and you are not, I repeat, NOT allowed to talk to that boy ever again, you understand me boy?” and I slowly shook my head in agreeance.
Now I am 25, that once racist man has lost most of his hate for others because he had 2 children of his own and would never deny them anything. But when I was 8 years old, I experienced “race” for the first time in my life. I witnessed something that divides us as people. When I say something, I am not referring to race itself, I am talking about the act of discrimination toward other races. Typing this now, it has dawned on me, there is an ongoing argument as to whether racism is learned, or just part of who we are. This is an experience that tells me one hundred percent that it is learned. Hating a group of people solely based on their outer appearance is quite possibly the most ignorant thing in the history of ignorance. As a child, I was grounded because my best friend didn’t look like me, I was grounded because my best friends skin color was darker than mine, I was grounded because my hair was wavy and brown and his was black and twisted into cornrows. When I was a kid, I was grounded because the man my mother had married, had no tolerance toward someone who was slightly different from himself.