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My Personal Experiences with Racisim

Updated on June 7, 2010
The whole family!
The whole family!

Setting the Stage

To set the stage, let me introduce myself. I am the white half of an interracial couple. This was not just a fling or a one night stand. The love of my life and I were together for over twenty years. During this time we had four wonderful children who are all grown and out in the world.

Needless to say my first real taste of racism was when I went home to tell my parents. The first words out of my mother's mouth as "I don't believe in abortion... but in this situation it really is the only option." Looking my parents in the eye, I told them, it was not an option, I was legally an adult and abortion was NOT an option.

When all was said and done, my mother, who was the most vocal, admitted that she would rather have me marry a no good, wife beating, drug addicted white man then a bright, caring, and college educated black man. Besides what would her friends at work think and how would she explain it to the neighbors? I was then told that I could not come home again because I would be a bad example for my younger brother and sister.

So I didn't.

Because of the decisions my parents made that day, they did not meet my oldest daughter for 15 years, for 15 years!

The Kindess of Stangers

I took the bus back to school with no idea of what I would do once the semester was over.  My mother was looking into a home for unwed mothers.  A place to keep me out of sight until this nasty mess was over with.  Even then God was watching over me,

The kindest, most loving people that I didn't even know opened their homes and hearts to me.    The family of the other half of this interracial couple  took me in with out batting an eye.  They have been my family ever since.

When they were small

My three youngest Elijah, Rachael, Jacob and a random neighbor
My three youngest Elijah, Rachael, Jacob and a random neighbor

My Flower Garden

Over the next 15 years, I was blessed with the most wonderful children a mother could ask for.  My oldest daughter was 10 before my oldest son arrived,  He was followed very quickly by my youngest daughter.  My youngest son was a completely unexpected blessing three years later. It was uncommon at the time for a 37 year old woman to be pregnant.

The Worst Kind of Racism

The type of racism I experienced was not the burning crosses in my front yard or Molotov cocktails thrown through my living room window.  It was more insidious than that.  I call it under the radar racism.  It was the subtle change in a person's face, a question that they would have never asked a white woman with white kids.  The harrasement and false assumptions made about my children by those in positions of authority have not stopped and it is now 2010.  This is the type of racism that white people never see because they never experience it.  It is hard to understand something when it doesn't happen the people around you.

My Dear Fiend Joyce

My friend Joyce and I were talking one day a few years ago.  We had known each other and worked together for over 20 years.  Talking about the state of the country and the world, she mentioned how much better people of all races where getting along.  I had to acknowledge that in many ways things were much better they had been.  I mentioned however that racism was not dead, it had just become more invisible.  She was puzzled and asked what did I mean.

So I Explained

That both of my oldest children had been stopped for DWB.  This is a term used for simply Driving While Black.  She was flabbergasted.   

Oldest daughter
Oldest daughter

My Daughter's Story

My oldest daughter graduated 17th in her class and played both varisty basketball and soccer in high school. After graduation she attended the University of Southern California on a full scholarship. She was now working n LA for a sports agent managing professional basketball players.

Leaving her employer's home in Santa Monica after an evening of getting acquainted with some of her new clients, my daughter headed home. It wasn't long before she saw the flashing lights and heard the siren of a police car that appeared behind her.

The University of Southern California, my daughter's Alma mater.
The University of Southern California, my daughter's Alma mater.

"Do you know why you were stopped? asked the officer.

"No I don't, was I speeding?

No but your license plate light is burned out.

That's impossible. My car was in for routine maintenance just a couple of days ago and my mechanic checked all the light.

My daughter's radar went up.

Do you mind telling me where your going this time of night?

Are you sure the license plate light is out? I need to check it so I can tell my mechanic.

There's no need for you to get out of the car, miss. Is this your car?

Of course, it is my car!

I need to see some ID and vehicle registration.

What's going on? My license plate light isn't really burned out. My dad is a police officer in Michigan and I know that without probable cause you have no reason to pull me over.

I still need to know where you live and where you were coming from and what where you doing there.

I need to see your badge number.

The exchange between the officer and my daughter became quite heated after that. Needless to say the police officer's only reason for stopping my daughter is because she is African-American.

My two oldest children
My two oldest children

This is Elijah's Story

Elijah was waiting at the bus stop where he had caught the bus since kindergarten. It was right across the street from his father's home. The high schools in Kalamazoo start at 7:30am to the buses start picking up around 6am. As it was fall, it was still dark out.

Being an officer on the midnight shift and living in the city limits, he was allowed to take his breaks at the house. A call came over his radio discribing a tall, young black man in a hoody standing on the corner of Wheaton and Davis streets. Radioing in, Elijah's dad said not to send out a squad car. As the location was right across the street from his home. He would deal with it.

That's My Son

As he went to investigate this tall, black male with a hoody, a light bulb went off. Someone had called the police on his son. The tall back man in the hoody was Elijah. Further inquiry revealed that it was the neighbor on the corner that had called it in. Mind you Elijah had stood on that same corner every morning to catch the bus. If his dad had not taken the call, a squad car would have been sent and Elijah might have been arrested.

My boys
My boys
Los Angeles
Los Angeles

An Angry Young Man

Incidents like this are what made my oldest son and angry black man.  At 26 years of age, he is just beginning to realize that this kind of anger only hurts himself.  The people that he is angry at don't know and don't care if he is angry.

University of Michigan
University of Michigan

My Youngest Girl

Even Rachael is a graduate of the University of Michigan, even though she developed a program call Semester in Detroit that was picked up the the University and put into practice, she to has faced her share of discrimination.  She had to fight to get into the academically talented programs run by the Kalamazoo Public Schools.  She had to work twice as hard as her classmates to achieve the same goals.  No one ever called her the "N".  No one ever came right out and said that her color made a difference in the way they thought of her but it did.

Rachael and her big sister
Rachael and her big sister
EJ a three sport athlete and student at U of M
EJ a three sport athlete and student at U of M

Even My Youngest Son

has stories.  He has been questioned while in a strip mall parking lot fixing a flat tire. When at the mall, he and his friends are followed by the mall security people and ditto when he enters a store. 

Jacob and a young admirer at his high school graduation
Jacob and a young admirer at his high school graduation
Rachael and her brothers at U of M graduation
Rachael and her brothers at U of M graduation

Blowing Things out of Proportion?

Unless you have experienced this subtle racism, you really have no idea how prevelant it is. Going into teachers conferences, when I introduced myself, there was a visible change in expression. Nothing dramatic but the smile disappeared and the face became mask-like. The words that came out were the right ones but the face and the body language did not lie. I was not the person that was expected.

When ever my family and I were out and about, we always attracted attention. Here was this white woman walking around with this black man and his kids. When standing in line for fast food and it was obvious that we were all together, I would just laugh and say, "I look like I was adopted don't I?" When I caught someone giving me the evil eye, I would stare right back at them until they got so uncomfortable that they finally had to look away.

Three generations, grandmother, kids, parents
Three generations, grandmother, kids, parents

Something I Still Don't Understand

Why is race still such an issue. In fact, why is cultural, religious and where you were born still an issue in this day and age? I love the fact that the United States is so diverse. By coming in contact with people from different places, with different views of the world, different foods, I have learned so much.

From Other People,

 I have learned that underneath none of us are that different. We are more alike then different. All of us want the same things. We want to be able to feed our children, put a roof over their heads and keep them and ourselves healthy so they can grow up and we can watch them do it. To me that is what life is all about.

Keeping the Pot Stirred

is keeping the pot stirred, Satan's way of keeping us apart? Is it away from seeing God's hand in all of us?  If we are continually fighting among ourselves, we can not see how much alike we really are and that the differences do not really matter. I guess that until Jesus Christ himself puts and end to the turmoil, our hatred of each other will keep Satan and his minions busy. 


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      There is no excuse for racism. People are people, we're all the same under the skin. You have a beautiful family. Take strength in that.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I am glad this story touched you. It was written to show those who never give racism a thought because it doesn,t affect them. They need to experience it through someone elses eyes. Some people are born with the ability to relate to the sufferings of others, you are one of them.

    • HannahRiley profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      This is such a powerful story! Thank you so much for sharing. I am sorry that you and your family has gone through this. As a child growing up, I was always so curious about race & what made people different? I remember asking my Mom, "Momma, why are there people who are mean to them just because of their skin color?" That was when we were beginning to learn about the history of slavery. I would pick the black baby dolls as often as I would pick the white baby dolls to play with & even I wrote a poem about how hurt I was for the people who had to endure that. Well that was kindergarden....

      In 8th grade we had to do a 'living history museum.' This was a project where we dress up as a person in history that we choose and answer questions as community members & school members walk around our museum. My teacher told us to choose historical figures who interested us, so I chose Harriet Tubman. You would have thought I slapped her across the face when she looked at me after I said that. I said, "is that ok?" Of course she said yes, to be fair my blonde headed classmate was Pocahauntas, why cant I be Harriet Tubman?

      I am in no way trying to say that I have endured any form of racism, nor can I possibly understand fully how it must feel to grow up feeling this way, but I just want you to know that I have always been sensitive about this subject & your story touched my heart.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      So sorry that you and members of your family have had to experience this. As one person already said, it is the inside of a person that counts...not the exterior. It is very sad that things like this are still happening in this day and age. Keep your chin up and let's pray for a better future.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I too am a great fan of CA because of its great diversity and laid back personality. Interracial dating is not as hard as it used to be BUT.... With racism flying so under the radar it is harder to pick up on until you go home to meet the fam.

      Would I go back and do it differently? NO!

    • ahostagesituation profile image


      8 years ago

      I've clocked my time in interracial relationships, and THAT is when you really get to understand what racism in this country is. I've been tempted more than once to write a hub..."Is it worth it? Interracial Dating in America." But it can be a very demographic thing--one of the things that keeps me in CA is the diversity and decent race relations. Thanks for sharing this!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      What an amazing story! You are certainly one brave lady, and I admire you so much. The hurt that people do to each other never ceases to sadden me. Prejudice is not pretty, in fact it is quite simply evil. Even though in South Africa it is now illegal (thank God) it still persists, especially from my fellow white citizens who somehow seem unable to leave it, to become more tolerant. Very sad indeed!

      Thanks so much for sharing this story which is by turns painful and uplifting.

      Love and peace


    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I had to addd this comment to my own hub. I was walking my two year old grandson home from the park. A burgandy car drove by and someone inside yelled "nigger lover" at me. I yelled "damn straight". I have traveled all over the deep south but it took 40yrs and a move to St. Petersburg, FL for this to happen.

    • mquee profile image


      8 years ago from Columbia, SC

      You do indeed have a beautiful family. The sad thing is all of us want the same things for our loved ones. There are all ready built in obstacles to obtaining our goals and in everyday life, so dealing with this issue can take our focus off our goals. Very well written. God bless you.

    • nancy_30 profile image


      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for sharing your story. It's a shame that people can't see others for what's inside and not outside. It's the inside that counts.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      You and I both mulberry. I thought that by now a persons ethnicity would be just another description like tall or short for from Iowa. Alas it hasn't happened yet.

      It has been my experience that since most white people do not experience racism, it doesn't usually come up in day to day conversation.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      8 years ago

      When I was a kid I thought that there would be no racism when I was an adult. I thought that the younger generation understood that this was...well...idiotic. But, alas, I was wrong.

      I must admit that many of the mixed black/white people that I know seem to gravitate toward their black family...I have to assume they are more often accepted there. I've also read that sometimes it's a problem of omission as well. A white family may accept them, but they never discuss race at all...they try to ignore it so I guess even if "accepted" they feel something is lacking or being covered up?

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      What a beautiful family you have!!! I am so glad you are with them...I know you just had a truly hard time deciding to move and all...but your family...they are your family. And so talented.

      It is a totally crying shame that in this day and age you should have all had to go through what you went through and what obviously still go through....this is why our world is having challenges. Love. This is the greatest commandment the Lord God gave love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

      Yet noone seems to be able to do this. My very best friend was black. I had a lot of friends...but he was the only one who ever stood up for me all of the time...He passed on about four years ago, he fought in the war, he was a good man...but I understand how things are....they are wrong...and until mankind understands how wrong they have been things will only get worse.

      You are fortunate reddog, to have such a wonderful family. And all of you should remember this one thing.....Whatever a person does against a child of God, they are doing it to God. God remembers and it will be His vengance We are all children of His.....And He loves us all. This may not be helpful in the time right this moment. But it is something to remember....May God bless you and yours daily.....

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for telling your story so expressively. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      You have a beautiful family. Yes, racism still exists unfortunately. Thank you for sharing your story in this heartfelt Hub.


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