Every other Monday, our Let’s Talk Race team posts a new community response question pertaining to race inviting friends, neighbors and strangers to share their thoughts and opinions.
Getting to know one another a little bit better helps us develop a deeper understanding across races, challenge racism, and move ever closer to racial equity.
As the dialogue continues, here’s a look back at some particularly moving responses to our first-ever community question…
“At what age did you first become aware of your race? What circumstances brought you to this awareness?”
"I grew up in a small, predominantly white town right outside Columbia, and I was told at a young age by some of the white children in school that I was ugly because I was Black. This made me question my beauty and wonder if what they were saying was true. I also remember going to the neighborhood park to ride my bike with my family, and when we arrived, there was graffiti everywhere with racial slurs. I remember asking my parents, with tears in my eyes, why people would do something like this. I just wanted to ride my bike." -Anonymous
"This was back in the 80's when this happened to me and my brother at Columbia Mall. My parents went shopping while me and my brother headed to the arcade. As we were walking kids and adults were saying things and doing hand gestures toward us. At first, I didn't notice until my brother mentioned something to me. We were probably around 12 or so. It kept happening but we just shrugged it off. We were kids, what were we supposed to do or say?" - Anonymous
I was called the n-word while trying to get my lunch in the cafeteria. I was 6.
"I think that I've always been aware of the fact that I'm Black, but I think I became aware that people thought that being Black thing was inferior around 1st grade when another classmate told me that I needed to go back to Africa. We were playing tag in the gym and while I can't remember the circumstances that led to him making that comment, I will always remember the way it made me feel. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and while I couldn't form the words needed for that moment, somehow, I knew that what he said to me was wrong. From that point on I fought to reaffirm my Blackness and embrace who I was and where I came from. It's hard reflecting on that moment and knowing that the little boy I encountered that day was taught to think in that way." -Anonymous
"I was born in California and moved to South Carolina during elementary school. Even as a relatively young child, I observed pretty quickly that different people were treated differently based on skin color, gender, wealth and a number of socioeconomic factors. It was a very different cultural climate than what we had come from. No one around us spoke Spanish any more, no one around us had black friends or neighbors. No one around us had racially mixed families like ours. I was five years old." -Anonymous
"I hate taking my daughter into stores - big box ones including Target, smaller chains like Home Goods, pharmacies like Walgreen. We cannot find dolls that look like her and she once said "I wish I was white." I feel like I have to overemphasize her black is so beautiful. She just wants to see herself in the toys she plays with and why can't corporate America agree?" -Anonymous
I remember going to the neighborhood park to ride my bike with my family, and when we arrived, there was graffiti everywhere with racial slurs. I remember asking my parents, with tears in my eyes, why people would do something like this. I just wanted to ride my bike.
"I was called the n-word while trying to get my lunch in the cafeteria. I was 6. I knew I was Black before that but that was the first time it started to matter." -Anonymous
"When I was younger, my father would make racist remarks. He would say something and look over at me as if he wanted me to congratulate him for being clever or to validate him. I just remember how hateful and ugly it sounded, how I never wanted to be a person that would say anything like that. I still have a very long way to go but that experience with my father probably started me on my anti-racist journey." -Anonymous
"I think I knew my race before this, but one instance in particular comes to mind of being fully aware that I was white: In middle school, I moved from a very white midwestern town to SC. My family and I went to a skating rink and we were the only white people there. I felt very out of place and like the space was not for me at all. Little did I know at the time that this is an everyday situation for many Black and Brown people, to be in a space where you are the only one who looks like you." -Anonymous
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