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Racism: My Personal Experiences

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I do not like spending too much time wallowing in things I have zero control over. Today I found myself knee deep in thoughts about a topic that sends chills up and down my spine. It is not my favorite topic, but after reading Carolyn Meyer’s book White Lilacs and an article about Darrel Brown, I felt compelled to write about my least favorite topic: Racism.

Reading Meyer’s book and the article about Darrel Brown forced me to think about my own experiences with racism. I tried my best to suppress the dormant feelings, but human nature prevailed and steered me in a direction I did not want to go.

Carolyn Meyer’s book chronicled a very dark part of American history. The novel is about true events of a black community in Denton, Texas. The white residents wanted all the blacks to relocate to a new location so they can build a park. The whites did not care that they were destroying the lives of the black people. The worst part is the blacks had no choice but to relocate to the worst section of Dillon Texas. How degrading.

The article about Darrell Brown is even more heart wrenching. A young African American male determined to be the first to integrate football in Arkansas met nothing but one defeat after another.

“Players and assistant coaches freely used racial slurs, a fact denied by none of Brown’s half-dozen teammates interviewed. Some even recalled chants and catcalls. And there was always the kickoff drill to knock him down.”

Racism is a very complex thing. It eats at you like a cancer. It demoralizes you. You have to be very strong to recover from what it does to you mentally.

I have so much respect for Darrell Brown for not giving up, but it gets to a point where one must re-examine ones motives. Darrell reached that point when he got hurt and no one came to his aid.

“Three weeks into practice, during one drill, Brown jammed his thumb and tore the cartilage. He howled in pain. No trainer came to him. They never did. Brown tried to block out the pain until his knee bent awkwardly during a hitting drill, causing a sprain and some torn cartilage. He hobbled to the side, again, he said, without a trainer paying him any mind.

For the first time he was not just hurt, he was injured. He couldn’t stand up. His thumb was killing him. His knee was beginning to swell. Practice ended with no one asking his condition. There was no medical attention. Brown limped to the locker room, undressed and eventually hauled himself up the hill to the campus infirmary for treatment. It was the only place that would see him.”

After getting hurt Brown realized it was time to move on.

As a black female in America, I too have experienced my share of racism. I remembered my first encounter with racism came about as a freshman in high school. Enrolled in the college-bound program, my English teacher made it a point to never give me the “A” I had earned. I worked very hard and made 100% in every test I took. She gave me a “B” instead of the “A.” I went and asked why I got a B on my report card. Her response: “I want you to continue to work hard,” she said. I walked away feeling totally baffled and confused.

Well, I continued to work hard and kept getting high marks, but much to my dismay. She continued to give me a “B” on my report card. The final blow was when I learned she had given my white classmates “A’s” even though they did not earn the grades.

I think she wanted me to drop out of the college-bound program. I was one of the two blacks in the program. I am not a quitter; I did not let this mean-spirited teacher deter me from achieving my goals.

My second encounter with racism occurred during college.  Many of my professors routinely used racial slurs. The one that really cut me through the bone: “You know studies have shown that blacks are inherently inferior to whites in intelligence”

This is what my professor said during a lecture. Being the only person of color in the class, everyone turned and looked at me. I wanted to slap that professor, but I realized I should not stoop down to her level of disrespect.

Then came the debacle with my name not appearing on the honor roll list. I spoke to the dean about why my name was left off, his response: “Sorry it was an accident. Truth be told, it was done intentionally.

I endured every obstacle thrown my way. I graduated with a bachelor of arts in French and Spanish with a minor in psychology. Proud as a peacock, I opened and looked at my diploma and discovered that the official seal of the president was missing. I knew right away why. Of course, I checked the diplomas of my white classmates; sure enough, all of theirs had the seal.

I must also be honest and mention that some of my professors treated me with the utmost respect. I quickly learned some people are just plain mean, but others do have a heart. I will never, ever forget my French professor who was originally from France. Lucky for me she really liked me a lot, and with her guidance, my self-esteem soared like an eagle. She wrote a glowing recommendation for me. Because of her, I got a full ride scholarship to study abroad with Syracuse University in Strasbourg, France. I lived with a French family and got a chance to travel all over Europe. That experience helped me expand my horizons. I learned through firsthand experience to appreciate other people and cultures.

What I learned while living in France helped shape the person I am today. As I ponder upon events of my past, I cannot help but be thankful for the men and women who have made many sacrifices so racism is not as bad as it once was. America has made much progress, but there is always room for improvement.

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About Nicole Weaver

Nicole weaver is an award-winning author. Her first trilingual book Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle was published in 2009. Her love for languages and other cultures resulted in publishing the award-winning book, My Sister Is My Best Friend which was published in 2011 by Guardian Angel Publishing. My Sister Is My Best Friend has won the following awards: 2012 Creative Child Awards Program consisting of moms and educators has awarded this book the 2012 PREFERRED CHOICE AWARD Kids Picture Storybooks category. 2012 Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2012 Children's Literary Classics Gold Award Readers' Favorite 5 Star Review Her newest book , My Brother Is My Best Friend was also published by Guardian Angel Publishing, January 2014.
  • http://passiontounderstand.blogspot.com/ Emm

    It always blows me away at how openly racist people can be in the US and UK and still get away with it. I grew up in South Africa where racism was something to be challenged and fought against at every step. You could take an employer to court for discrimination or racism in South Africa. I thought by moving to the UK I’d see more freedom and equality but I have seen far, far less.

    Well done on this brave article.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Nicole –

    Very good article…and racism is the main reason why I’ll never live in Mississippi again. Here’s my journey out of racism…but Mississippi has not changed. In April 2011, a poll found that 46% of ALL Republicans in MS still thought that interracial marriage should be illegal. In June 2011, Indianola Academy (in Indianola, MS), a private school that I attended for one year, had an all-white graduating class…never mind that the county as a whole is 71% black.

    There’s still so much racism in America. That 46% of Mississippi Republicans who thought that interracial marriage should still be banned – if you asked them if they were racist, almost every one would say no, absolutely not!

    Where’s the disconnect? Right here.

    My articles won’t help the problem, but they might help with our understanding.

  • Mymcbooks

    Was an interesting read Nicole. I was born in England and have been told twice in all my years in England to go back to Africa.

    But not as bad when a drunken man came to my booth at an event and said “what is this black N**** doing here?” And that was in Gulfport, Florida. The racism in America is soooooooooo bad that I once told my husband who is an American that I would like to move back to England.

    Ella

  • Nicole Weaver

    Emm,

    Thanks for your comment. I too, am baffled with what racist people get away with.

  • Nicole Weaver

    Glenn,
    I read your articles , I must say you are a brave soul for eloquently writing about your past. Thanks for your nice comments.

  • Nicole Weaver

    Ella,

    I have been called the n word too many times to count. Yes! America is still very racist. I did not mention this in my article, but in 2009 a racist principal removed me from my teaching position for a white teacher who was clearly not as qualified as me. Go figure, I am a native speaker of French, the white teacher could barely carry a conversation in French. I just hope someday things will change in America.

  • Sen Jinnoh

    “Well, I continued to work hard and kept getting high marks, but much to
    my dismay. She continued to give me a “B” on my report card. The final
    blow was when I learned she had given my white classmates “A’s” even
    though they did not earn the grades.”

    Usually in high school and college, for every course there is a rubric with a particular score determined by points earned on assignments. If you get 100s on all tests, as long as you do reasonably well in other assignments (papers, homework) it should result in an “A” grade (usually indicated in a numeric value). So if this teacher is giving you lower grades against the rubric, this should have been reported.

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