I wasn’t Taught This Or Was I?

#Racism #WakingUp #Mindbites

This is the first in a series of being open about growing up, understanding privledge, and making mistakes. Keep in mind, I am blessed to have grown beyond this thinking.

Life in the late 80s / early 90s, was different than now or at least I wasn’t as aware of my actions as I am now. For context, I also grew up in a mostly white suburb of Chicago.

I was on a trip with my Dad and my older brother to Washington, D.C and was in sixth grade. I remember the trip vividly. It was a great change to explore history and spend it with my family.

On the way to D.C, we got turned around and ended up in a “rough” neighborhood. I didn’t know what that meant at the time. As we drove through the predominantly black neighborhood, I remember my dad rolling up the windows and locking the door. I didn’t understand why.

When I went back to school after the trip, a teacher asked me to write about the experience. I vividly remember asking her what the name of the “black” neighborhood was. She looks at me confused and said she didn’t know. So I finished writing. Nothing more was said of that incident.

Now more than 35 years latter, I remember it. I am sickened by the fact, I thought like that. This is what systemic racism is. I was never approached by anyone, never in harm’s way, or anything. It was a normal neighborhood with people doing their business. But because of my Dad’s actions, I was taught a lesson: Predominately black neighborhoods should be feared and are rough.

I now know how wrong I was. I understand that there are bad people in every neighborhood.

Why Do I Share This?

1. Racism doesn’t have to be blatant or said. You don’t have to be active in teaching it, it is learned by observation.

2. You can grow and apologize. We all make mistakes and can realize why those mistakes were wrong and not do it again.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first #mindbites. More to come.