Why is your skin brown?

Little boy Stock Photo by ©eaniton 8773829

Is what the toddler asked me. I was a cashier in a convenience store. I wasn’t insulted, before I could respond, his mother whisked him away.

Children aren’t born racist, they are taught.

Throughout the years, my friends and I have shared stories about our upbringing. The sentences below reflect what we were told by some family members and adults in our lives.

You can have all the white friends you want, but you will never be white, they will never accept you, you will always be a nigger.

Chinese people don’t know how to use knife and forks like us, they eat with sticks.

You cant wear that, only Negros and t Mexicans wear purple.

You have to keep an eye on black people, they will rob you blind.

Look at um, with their racist asses. I hate white people

He trying to be white, talking all proper, like a white person.

Those Mexicans are nasty, they bring their filth to America

You are white! don’t you know that! The coloreds hate white people! They gonna take you somewhere and kill you! Get that through your head!

I don’t want my girls around those people….

If my child married a ____________ I would disown her.

They want special rights, so they can look down On whites.

They all lie.

Last summer, I reconnected with some old friends Via zoom. We were in school in the late sixties, early seventies, during a time when governments forced school integration. While black and brown children had an option of attending a white school. Some white children were forced to attend a school of color.

To say the initial transition period was rocky was understatement. Angry parents and resentful students. If you were the minority, you was taunted and often physically attacked by some of the majority. The source of the anger, was often our parents and elders. Being a big black kid, I wasn’t attacked. Some black kids resented me for having non black friends and I wasn’t trusted by some in my community. I learned, a few of my White, Asian and Mexican friends experienced the same thing from members of their community.

After school we lost contact. I couple of people I kept in touch with are no longer with us today. Death, Divorce and Children.

As kids ,we were very aware what was happening in the world and in our own communities. One day a member of our posse just disappeared, one day he wasn’t in school. I learned during the call, that he was beaten by his father after someone saw us eating together in a McDonalds. His entire family moved out of San Pablo.

Fifty years, there are only a few of us left. Old men on Facebook, wondering if so and so is still alive? We all agreed, we were better off than our parents due to integration. Like our parents we saw color, what we didn’t share was their fear, and ignorance. There was some bump and hurdles through the years but we worked them out.

Over time we stopped labeling our friendship…… My Black friend, my Japanese friend, my White friend, my Mexican friend. Overtime, we simply became buddies.

Covid has changed some of us forever. I have a new appreciation for life. If it weren’t for Covid, I don’t believe I would have reached out to old friends. Men I haven’t seen in forty, fifty years, we are all planning to get together in the spring, I’ll have my insults ready.