Nicholas - Kinsale, Virginia
Entered on December 8, 2008

This I Believe

As a young African-American growing up in Chicago, I never witnessed racism. That was because everyone around me was also African-American. I always heard about it through my elementary school teachers and my parents, but I never saw it until I moved to rural Virginia.

My parents never taught me to be racist. They always told me that “everyone was created equal”, and I lived by that. I always got along with everybody, however; when I moved to Virginia it seemed like a whole different world.

In Westmoreland County, Virginia, the population is approximately 17,000. There is a mix of ethnic races, roughly 40% white, 40% black, and about 20% Hispanic people. For the first time, I was experiencing a population with a lot of Caucasians. I didn’t see their skin color; I just saw people. In Westmoreland, there were plenty of people who would not agree.

You always see older white males walking around with confederate symbols on their clothing and even on their cars. They do not care if they offend anyone; it’s as if they want you to feel inferior. Even with this occurrence, it didn’t bother me, until I started to date this white girl.

I started dating my girlfriend in high school. I had never dated a white girl before, and she had never dated a black guy. So, we soon found ourselves in a rude awakening. I thought that her father did not care what my race was and that it was acceptable for us to date. WRONG. Her father only wanted her to date white men. In response to her decisions, her father kicked her out of his house and she moved in with her mother. It was a “sin” in Westmoreland County, for bi-racial relationships. I was looked at differently and started to lose friends because of it. Everything changed for me. Fortunately, after a while, everything calmed down and most of her family started to give our relationship a chance.

Now, her family gets along with me. I am always invited for the family cookouts and even vacations. Over time, I realized that it was not something they were use to and just needed to adjust. I also realized that racism is not something you are born with. It’s something you are instilled with; therefore your feelings on it can change, just as theirs did.

America’s views on racism are changing too. America has grown from a country that used to have African- Americans as slaves to now having the first African-American President –Elect in Barack Obama. Most Americans are looking at the person under the skin. However, there are still a lot of racist people in America. I have realized that some pass this awful belief of racism onto other generations, and yet fortunately this nation has succeeded from the time of slavery, to now equality for everyone. This country is progressing and finally living up to its name, The United States of America.