2008-07-31

Misconceptions of Race I Had As A Child

As a kid I was painfully aware of race from the time I started school. I would wonder about it, and I made assumptions that now seem weird, but it is how I saw race.

I thought there were no other races except white, black, and "chinese" (not asian,Chinese, and you could be Korean, Vietnamese, or Filipino, you were still Chinese when I was five). Most asian people I had met probably up until high school weren't Chinese, but rather Vietnamese and Filipino.

The first time I saw an asian person in real life I was 7 and I loudly pointed to a little asian girl around my age, and told my mother "Look, there's a real life Chinese girl!!!!" My mom was embarrassed, and told me not to point at people, and that they should be called asian, as we don't know what country they came from.

If you were anything else outside of the concept of white, black, or "chinese", you were just black. I remember watching Sesame Street, and Maria and Luis were black, just like Gordon, Susan, and Olivia. I figured they were the same color as some of my relatives, they must be black.

I thought all people, regardless of race had brown eyes. I never paid any attention, until a year or so after playing with my next door neighbor Jared, that white people had different color eyes aside from brown. I never noticed family members with blue or green eyes either until my brother was born.

I thought all babies were born white because my brother came out light skinned, with green eyes, and blonde hair. I thought they darkened up over time to become black, my brother did darken, he never achieved the brownish color of me and my parents, as a result I then assumed he must have been adopted, as I was not witness to the actual birth. I also assumed this because the bottom of my feet and the palm of my hands were white. They just didn't darken quite right.

I didn't understand the concepts of weaves and wigs on black women until almost high school, I thought people just had really long hair, and the braids down to their booty was normal hair.