Discrimination Up Close Essay, Research Paper
Subject: Personal Experience Paper Sun., August 6, 200011:57:12 AM MDT
From: Debi Slaughter (view profile)
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Being from an upper middle class white family, I never thought that discrimination would become a part of my life. That was before I realized that my so-called upbringing was not what it had seemed.
I was born and raised in Albion, MI. “Little Detroit” as its been called by some. In school I hung out with all races of people. The color of ones skin was never an issue with me, I only saw people for who they were, not what was on the outside. My family had raised me to believe that all people had the potential of being good or bad, not to judge by the color of their skin.
When I was 19, I had moved out and begun a hard life of being a single parent. My son’s father and I had just gotten a divorce and life was becoming harder by the minute. A good friend of mine was helping me cope and he was a major point of me being able to work, finish school and still have time for my child. He was black. Our friendship developed into a relationship right before my 20th birthday. And that was when things began to change. When my mother found out that I was involved with a black man, she became distraught. She begged me not to let people in our town know. He had been a good friend with my father also, for they had raced cars together. My mom was adamant about my father not finding out. I laughed at this, shoot, my dad and him were friends, why would there be a problem? Low and behold, my dad had a fit. He barred me from my house, family functions, forbid my sister to see me and pretty much considered me dead. My confusion was acted out in rage. I begged him to explain to me why it was ok to be friends with black people but not have a relationship. He told me it was just the way it was. When my grandfather died, no one came to pick me up for the funeral. My boyfriends mother took me to the cemetery where everyone acted as if I had grown a third arm from the middle of my forehead! As the service was ending, my grandmother finally walked over to me and put her arm around me and guided me up to the front with the rest of the family. She hugged me and told me no matter what I chose to do or whom I chose to be with; I was still the love of her heart. She then invited me back to the house for the dinner and told me to bring Vince with me. He declined, but I went. My family had accepted me, but would never accept Vince in the 4 years we were together.
Then I moved to a little town west of us in 1990. I knew that it was a predominantly white town, with very little diversity. I had worked in this town for 3 years, so I was used to the discriminatory remarks that I had heard in my day-to-day duties. But I was not prepared for the reaction I would get when I tried to become a member of their community.
The first thing I found out was that because I had come from Albion, I was automatically considered trash. The second thing was that I would never be accepted for whom I was inside, for they had lumped me into a category of being non-white… I was actually told that I talked “too black” for this town! For the first year I thought I was crazy. How the heck could these people be so blind? It was like I traveled 100 years into the past when all I did was travel 13 mile east of my hometown. I have now lived here for 10 years and still have not been accepted by the “hometown” people. But I can live with that, because small-minded people are not the kind of people I want to be associated with. And there I go, being discriminatory, something I did not realize that I could be.
It has not been easy being in this town, but I do have friends that I can rely on. Most of them are people who were not born and bred in this little town. In the 10 years I have been here, I’ve seen the community loosen up their views a little. There are now more than 6 African American families living within the city limits. Their children are still harassed though on a daily basis. My son and I have been more or less ostracized for being open minded. Keeping my mouth shut is not one of my best habits! My son is a “punk skater” so both community members and the police harass him, and yet he has never been into any kind of trouble. The local school system has driven him out with their snide remarks and their small ways of thinking. He has now gone to take his GED and get on with his life. I told a woman a few years ago what my religion was, she asked me first… now half the town thinks I’m a Satanist. Oxymoron though, for Christians created Satan, and I am pagan… so I don’t believe in him… still I have been harassed, barred from businesses I used to frequent and my house was at one time vandalized by a group of “God fearing Christians”.
Yes, discrimination is mainly directed at skin color, and all people are capable of it. At 18, I never believed I had a reason to fear being discriminated against, unless it was because I was a woman. Now at 35, I know that no one is safe from this dreadful act. But I do believe that if we educate our children the RIGHT way, and let them know that all people have blue blood that leaks red, that someday our society will be a better place. I just hope I’m around to enjoy it.