What memory do you have of an incident when you experienced bias, prejudice, and/or oppression, or witnessed someone else as the target of bias, prejudice, and/or oppression?
When I was 7 years old I wanted to have my best friend over for my birthday. I was so excited to have her come and see my dolls and share my birthday. When she arrived my father made a big deal of it and sent her home because she was African American and my father didn’t want her staying in our house. I felt horrible and wanted to go curl up in a ball in the closet and never come out. My friend didn’t understand why she couldn’t spend the night however her mother did and she said we couldn’t be friends anymore. My father told me I wasn’t ever to talk to her or anyone of her kind again and the next day our house was on the market. We sold our house a month later and moved to the suburbs where at the time very few African Americans lived. My father was very prejudiced however; I never really understood it until my 7th birthday. I promised myself that I would never belittle anyone because of what color skin they were or what language they spoke. I didn’t what to give up my friendship however; I didn’t have a choice and neither did my friend.
In what way(s) did the specific bias, prejudice and/or oppression in that incident diminish equity?
I no longer was allowed to be friends with anyone different that I was. AT the time I I had no idea that there was a difference between my color skin and other peoples color until that incident. Was eyes were opened and it was frightening to me to realize that such prejudice excised in this world. Even though I was young at the time that incident has been a memory that has never erased and when I was married and started having my own children I had a long talk with my future husband to make sure he wasn’t prejudiced and was willing to teach our children that it didn’t matter what color our skin was or what language we spoke, everyone is unique and we accept them as they are.
What feelings did this incident bring up for you?
I was sad and frustrated because my friend and I could no longer be friends yet I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t be friends. My parents didn’t really go into detail of why we couldn’t stay friends, just that we couldn’t stay friends because that was the way it was. What made it right? Why were we made different if we weren’t supposed to get along with one another? Of course I was born in the 60’s when life was so different yet that didn’t make it right. I am not perfect and I say the wrong thing sometimes that upsets people however; I strive to try harder and learn from my mistakes.
What and/or who would have to change in order to turn this incident into an opportunity for greater equity?
In the society we live in we have the opportunity to change our thinking towards one another. There is still a great deal of prejudice in this world and those that are feeling it the most are the ones that need our trust and support the most. We can make a difference when we learn more about diversity and why everyone is unique individuals. Our world would be so boring if we were all the same. I am grateful for whom I am and the unique qualities I bring to society. I also am grateful that my husband and I are complete opposites because it brings joy and laughter into our home.
Have a marvelous week!