When I think of racism, a very important man comes to my mind and that is Martin Luther King Jr. My favorite speech that this man ever gave was the “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech was delivered on Aug. 28, 1963, and Dr. King talked about how he hopes to see racism come to an end.
I’d like to say that we have achieved that dream of his more than 50 years later in 2018, but sadly we have not. To this day, we have blacks hating whites and whites hating blacks and people being judged on the pigment of their skin and absolutely nothing else. When I start thinking about racism and how it has affected my life, I start to think about a time when I was in kindergarten.
You see, I’ve lived in a small town my whole life, but I never truly noticed at a young age that my skin tone was just a little bit darker than my friends’. My skin color was never a problem with anyone until I entered kindergarten. As I said before, I’m from a small town where there wasn’t anyone who was considered “different.” Other than hair or eye color, everyone was pretty much the same.
I never will forget the day that I was told “You shouldn’t be proud to be you.” It was Native American Week, where we got to learn about the culture and traditions of the Native American people. This subject had my attention, because I am Native American. I remember telling my kindergarten teacher that I was so excited to celebrate and learn about Native Americans, because it was half of me.
Her response was something that has stuck with me since that day. With the straightest face in the world, she turned to me and said, “Oh, sweetheart, you shouldn’t be proud of that; you’re a half-breed. And no one wants to be a half-breed.”
I didn’t know what she meant, but I knew it didn’t make me feel very good.
As I looked around my classroom, I noticed I was darker than the rest of the students from my hair to my skin tone. Until this point, it had never bothered me.
When I went home that night, I told my mom what my teacher said and asked her, “Why do I have to be a ‘half-breed’ because that is something bad, and I don’t want to be anything bad?“
Now I know some people may think that my example isn’t truly based on racism, but ask yourself a question: If it’s not racism, then what is it? If my case isn’t racism, than how is anyone else’s. I was told that I shouldn’t be proud to be me because I am more than one race, because my skin tone is darker.
I sometimes feel that some think racism is only about black and white, but it isn’t that simple. I think truly that people forget there are more people and races that are affected. I hope reading my story impacts all of you and that you look at racism in a different light and realize that it goes deeper than black and white.
I hope that one day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream comes true, because I truly think that we will have a much better America if it does.
Charity Dearwester is a student in Vivian Blevins’ communications class at Edison State Community College.