This for an assignment from Color Online. At first I didn't think I'd have anything to say, but then....
I started thinking about when I was little. We (my two brothers, my sister) grew up in a unique family unit, especially for the times that we grew up in. I was born in 1960, my sister is one year older, and my brothers 6 years younger. Now in the 1960's and even in the early 70's you didn't hear much about divorced families. Everything you saw on tv was white families with two children, two parents....except for the Mod Squad. We lived with our single mom. Our single Central American mom. She worked cleaning houses while putting her self through the Junior college, and then a state college. We should all have the ambition she did, but we don't-I don't. But for all she did and accomplished, she didn't talk much about her country, or culture, or much of anything to do with being spanish, or central american. In fact, we grew up speaking only english. I tried taking spanish courses in middle school and high school, but it seemed it was mostly geared toward people who were going to go to Mexico as tourists, or talk to university students. Not really conversational. Even while we were taking spanish courses, mom didn't speak to us in spanish. All this background is just to show that we kind of grew up in a vaccuum. No spanish culture, no english culture, no myths, etc. whatever I've learned about fairy-tales, myths, old wives tales, etc comes from reading fiction.
In our city, while we never heard any racist comments, we also didn't see many people of color around, except for all my mom's friends. Who were mostly from Mexico. They would laugh and speak spanish to each other and have us go play outside.
So when I was given an assignment in school to write biographies. there were two people I focused on. I don't know why, because nothing was mentioned about writing about people of color or caucasions. We were just told to do biogrophies.
The first year I picked Marian Anderson. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I remember wondering why it was such a big deal that she was the first black singer in Carnegie Hall. Now I know, but back then I had come from a family with mixed friends. I never felt white, I never felt spanish. In kindergarden though I painted black paint all over my arms and legs and face. I got in trouble, but I remember crying for our aide, who was gloriously black. Anyway back to the report. I remember reading a little about Marian Anderson's trials as a black singer, but then it was written in the 1960's and so the racism was obviously played down.
The second report I did was about Harriet Tubman. That one affected me a lot more. I was older, the book contained quite a bit more detail. I remember feeling sick thinking about her being hit. I felt sick thinking about people being sold, sold from their parents, sold away from their family and friends. I also remember thinking how brave Harriet Tubman was, going on the freedom underground, and helping many others.
At the time, and for many years after that I thought we were the only country to have slaves. Later, I read about Saxons enslaving people they conquered, Vikings taking thralls, Arabians taking slaves. When I found that out, I pretty much lost respect for humanity as a whole. For human beings, we can be very cruel.
So now, I try to focus on the good things that people do for each other, because if I focus too much on the opposite side, I just might end up hating everyone, and then I wouldn't be any better off than any of the enslavers throughout history.