Growing Up Black in America

I grew up in a home with both parents having a heritage rooted in black America. My father was born in Mississippi to parents who operated a farm their entire lives. He had 2 sisters and a brother. Once he was grown he moved to Illinois, took a job, married and raised a family.

My mother was born in Louisiana to a father who was of direct African descent and a mother who was of direct native Indian. They moved to California and made a home having just one daughter and many sons. Her brothers ended up joining the military and made a career serving and protecting our country.

As a child we never had a lot of money but my family still managed to purchase a home, my father always keep a nice car and he worked every day to support his family. I learned from my father the importance of a great work ethic, the importance of taking care of your family and how to navigate being black in America. We would see how his white bosses spoke down to him in front of others and how when the police pulled us over for any reason we ended up in police stations having to explain why we were in our car for any reason. I use to think everyone was treated this badly but as I grew up I saw that it was really limited to people who were “non white.” I was an outspoken child and many times my father would silence me and say “you cannot just say what you think when you are dealing with white people. Many believe a black man has no voice and should not be heard.”

My mother was a loving and protective woman. She didn’t work outside of the home but took care of it and her children. There was a time when we were in grammar school my classroom was going to the bathroom and my sisters class was already in the hall getting ready to return to class. I saw my sister and her friends just talking and being girls when the principal Mrs Brown, a white woman, came down the hall, told the girls to stop talking in the hall and proceed to grab my sisters by the ear and pull her out of line to tell her to be quiet. As the younger brother I wanted to say something because I watched my sister cry from being handled so roughly. When we went home I told her to tell my mother but she didn’t want to. So I did. My mother was in the Principals office the next day and after she had spoken to the teacher about the incident (which many children and staff witnessed) she went into the Principals office and let her know that under no circumstances was she ever to put her hands on my sister again. The principal was surprised to see my mother speak to her as she did but my mother was not afraid to speak up when it came to protecting her children.

Growing up black in America means you have many memories of being treated unequally when compared to other white children. It means a society was always trying to show you your “place in the world.” Racial slurs, remarks that insult your intelligence and people trying to make you feel inferior to them was a commonplace occurrence.

I am glad some things have changed and gotten better for black people here. I am sad we still have such a long way to go. God never made an inferior race; people just get stuck on wanting to feel superior to someone.