Most of my childhood was spent in Indianapolis in a predominately white neighborhood, but one of my best friends in school happened to be black. Her name was Linda and I loved her. We even took tap and ballet classes on Saturdays together. Then we moved to the suburbs and I never saw Linda again, but I never forgot her.
My new town and school was 100% white. During the 60's civil rights battles, I would see that on the nightly news but I thought that stuff only happened in the South. I never witnessed blatant racism until I got into middle school and would listen to the other kids talk or witness how the black kids from visiting sports teams would be treated by the home crowds. I could never get on board with that line of thinking - mainly because of my experience with Linda and my upbringing. Indianapolis Public Schools was at that time being ordered to desegregate their schools and to start busing black students to the township schools. This ruling, however, did not include my high school but it did the high school a mile from my home and where many of my friends went. (http://www.indianahistory.org/our-collections/collection-guides/indianapolis-public-schools-desegregation-case.pdf)
I was disappointed we would not be getting any black students, because it was important to me that my school and town be more diverse. When I would tell people where I lived, how racist the town is was almost always brought up. It embarrassed me to be associated with racism and the town. When I graduated from school, I soon moved back to Indy. To this day, 35 years later, I still hesitate to tell anyone where I graduated because of my discomfort they will believe I'm a racist by association.
On this past MLK day, this was posted by a former classmate (who still lives in town) on his wall:
"I'm confused correct me if im wrong..Martin Luther King day will be observed on monday the 19th.a lot of his followers will have the day off from work!!!!..but why was there never a George Washington day observed for the white folk and we would have to work?"
Some of the responses of his and other classmates who still remain in town:
"Because they look for every reason not to work"
"Well i dont think that MLK was ever a president...maybe its just that we have always been the minority!...and we dont get what we want...what about a naawp..instead of a naacp...now wouldnt that make us equal?"
"Why don't we get national white history month either? Society has made it to where we pretty much "owe" them for the past"
"Whatever bub..ive worked all my life,,never followed him(MLK),,you dont think the black folk are racist againt the wite,,,better wake up stupid yourself!!!ill tell ya i work my ass off for my 65,000..plus a year!.. im sorry you have to fell this way..but i never had any interest in MLK's messages nor did i ever listen to what he had to say...so go ahead and observe his day buyb!have a wonderful day:)"
"im not racist..but i get the vibes they seem to get all the attention for some reason...i dont think i hold the ace of spades in my wallet!"
"On another note... since black people have BET (Black Entertainment Television) Do you think white people should have WET? :)"
"its james earl ray day"
"if we had WET or White history month, the white EXPO, OR even Billy Graham day, we would be deemed racist! Why am I as a white woman, not allowed to be proud?"
The few who called out the racism in the post were attack and called names. A couple of examples:
"Jxx is obviosley a dumacrat" and "im thinkin jxx is also a shit pile"
My friend, who is neither a dumacrat nor a shit pile, and I were both ashamed and embarrassed for these classmates and their ignorance. But it sparked another conversation with other friends who had moved out of that town. We noted that those of us who had moved away to the large cities or out of Indiana shared the same feelings. We all celebrate diversity and are proud we no longer think or are surrounded by those that think like our former classmates.
Any comments or thoughts to share?