“Why don’t you like me?”

CAM01363Mandy P,
Sacramento, CA.

When I was 7 years old we moved to Sacramento from Oregon. The culture and diversity is very in California than in Oregon. Moving to California exposed me to many other races and cultures. I saw many other races in my environment. Although in my neighborhood, where I lived and attended elementary school, there were very few other races besides white. My schemata was limited to the experiences I had had in my life to that point. In his book, “Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You”, Fuentes describes schemata as everything we have experienced and learned throughout our lives that make up how we see the world (2012: 30). Even though my exposure was increased by our move, my everyday experiences were very similar to what they had been in Oregon. I was still living in a mostly white community, and my family still very much influenced me. My schemata had not changed all that much.
When I was in the 3rd grade, a teacher of mine dedicated the last week of school to showing the class the entire made for TV series of “Roots.” I was shocked and horrified by what I saw in those shows. I had no idea of that part of American history. I remember walking away with a sense of what racism was. I walked away with a deeper understanding of how wrong it was to judge another person on the color of their skin. A skill of being non-judgmental that stuck with me. Fuentes explains “enskillment” as learned and acquired behaviors that we gain from our environment (2012: 30). I had gained a new skill through that early experience.
When I was in the 7th grade we moved to the pocket area of Sacramento. The Jr. High I attended was in a different part of town where the community was much different than I was used to. At this new school whites were the minority. I knew that I was different from most of my peers. It was here that I experienced racism first hand. I was picked on, bullied, and threatened. There was one girl in particular along with her two friends, who bullied me for most of a year. I had no idea why she was treating me this way. After several months of constant fear, ridicule, and public humiliation I finally asked her why she didn’t like me. She responded by saying “Because you’re fat, you’re white and you’re ugly.” I was so mortified. I was being hated because of my outward appearance and there was nothing I could do about it. It was then that I truly understood what racism was.
Through that early experience in the 3rd grade, I had gained a skill that I am extremely grateful for. Instead of learning the skill of racism, I was able to fight against negativity and hate and rise above. These experiences have become a part of my schemata and the skills I have learned are a great benefit to me today.


Tweets by Michele Norris