Friday, July 25, 2008

#12 - When People of All Races Hang Out Together

(A JAM C) I remember the first time I was really confronted with the complexities of being mixed black and white.  I was in 8th grade and I had just moved to a new state.  It was my first day of school at my middle school, and things were going great until it came time for lunch.  I remember walking in to the cafeteria, and what I saw amazed me.  All of the black students were sitting at their tables together, and so were all of the white students.

In grade school I never had to face this issue, because we always sat by our class.  In 7th grade, I went to a school with maybe four black people, and so I didn't have to worry about it.  So here I was in 8th grade, and I remembered it clearly... where should I sit?  After standing there dumbfounded, I noticed a small table in the corner of the room that had one black guy, and the rest white guys.  I didn't know any of them, but it didn't matter, because I really didn't know anybody.

After about a minute, a black girl came up to me and asked me "are you Kendall?"  She knew about a tall, dark, and handsome transfer student from a neighboring school who was the quarterback of our football team, and she must have wanted to get to him first.  Why then did she think I was him?  I don't know.  I replied and told her that I wasn't Kendall, but her response was one I'll never forget.  She said "it doesn't matter, sit with us anyway."  I had just gotten a glimpse of this girl's world.  She saw me sitting at what in her eyes was the wrong table, and so she felt the need to make everything right.  To this day, I insist that I'm more black than I am white because of several experiences like that.

I remember coming home and telling my step-father about the situation.  It was disturbing to me.  Being my innocent 13 year old self, I had just experienced a paradigm shift.  Why do the black students not hang out with the white ones and vice versa?  I was completely shocked, and I had no idea why it was like that.  13 years later, I have come to notice that black people almost always hang out with other black people, and white people do the same.  Hispanic people are even worse, and asians set the bar at its absolute limit.  If you're asian and you're offended by that comment, just think about it.  Think about what would happen if a person of a different race walked up to a group of Asians, and tried to talk to some of them.  It would be very awkward for all involved, and you know it.  I know, because I have tried to do it.  It just isn't happening.

How awesome do you think it is to a biracial person when we notice people of other races hanging out together?  I can't even begin to describe it to you.  Some of the most segregated places in America are some of the places that should be the least segregated.  It's hard.  Where do we go?  What do we do?  Who do our parents hang out with if everybody else is hanging out with each other?  Those are all questions that we have to face when we see a lack of racial diversity in specific areas.

No comments: