I have lived very few places where I wasn't outnumbered by Blacks. I lived in Oakland California for 30 years. I lived in Maryland before that and was bused to Baltimore to attend school. I lived on Treasure Island Naval base and at that time they were busing kids from Hunter's Point San Francisco to school on the island. So you see, I have had extensive contact with Blacks all my life.
I have had contact with many other races as well. My closest friends have been Chinese American and Native American women. I have to say that the contact with other races has not affected me 1/100 as much as being in day to day contact with Blacks has. I was never a wanna be type in school. Although, my divorced mother was on SSI and I received welfare and food stamps, I knew we were culturally different than the Black kids. For one thing I could read when I was three. Very few of the Black kids I went to school with seemed interested in reading. I hated school and rarely attended Jr. High. Blacks were part of the reason I hated school. They were disruptive. They were cruel and disrespectful of everyone else, while demanding the utmost respect from the kids of other races and the teachers. They would make the White kids tie their shoes. They would steal our money and Bonnie Bell lipgloss. They would dump us in the garbage cans and pour milk on us. I knew that they were mistaking fear for respect. Teachers and students were afraid of the Black students.
The teachers were also terrified of being considered racist. The teachers would not enforce any discipline in the classroom because they would get accused of racism the minute they told a Black student to be quiet or to sit down. The Blacks would say that their parents told them not to take no shit off no white teacher. The teachers always backed down from confrontations with Blacks. This also set up a two tiered system, whereby White and Hispanic students would receive discipline and suspensions for things that Blacks got away with. That's not to say that Blacks were never suspended, they were, but for much worse things than Whites were. I have to say that I don't remember an Asian ever being suspended for anything.
Blacks would never do their homework and they would not participate in class at all. They wouldn't bring their books or writing materials. They would strongarm other students into letting them copy tests. As a consequence they never learned anything. It went on and on. I dropped out in the 8th grade. I received counseling and went back to an alternative school. The rules at the school were very lax and little was expected of us. The students were again mostly Black and troubled, but they managed to go along pretty well as long as nobody interfered with their freedom. I dropped out again and took the High School Equivalency Exam and graduated a year early. The difference between me and the Black kids was that although I had not attended school very often, I had still managed to gain enough knowlege to pass the test and graduate. The consequences for the Black kids were more dire than mine.
I had been a Navy brat in my early years. I had traveled extensively. I had been a lot of places and done a lot of things. Even when I was a teenager, my best friend, a Native American, would drag me all over the place to go to Native American Pow Wows. I got to see and meet a lot of different people. I believe that people are very different regionally as well and I was exposed to that. The Black kids weren't. They never left the inner city. They didn't know that they weren't the majority everywhere else. They didn't know where anyone else came from and they didn't really care about anyone else. I remember once in class a Black student pointed at a blond white girl and said, "I come from Africa, what about her she don't come from nowhere." It seemed as if they had no interest in the wider world at all.
I have to say I thought I hated Black people then. I was also pretty goodlooking. I had Farrah Fawcett hair and was curvy. Once this drug addict walked up to me and said, "Farrah Fawcett, what you doin' standin' here at this bus stop? You should be driving a big ol' Mercedes!" That was funny. I was harassed by Black men every time I had to stand at a bus stop and that was every day. Black men would say horrible things to me and sometimes they would say these things in front of my mother and even my grandmother. Once the Pimp that lived up the street from me showed up in his El Dorado to pick me up from school. It was degrading and humiliating. I am aware that the same thing happened to black women in the South at the hands of White men, but it didn't make it easier to take. I found Black men physically beautiful, but lacking in control and that made them unsexy to me.
So, as I grew up I had no good opinion of Blacks. My mom had gone to the same high school that I was assigned to and her classes had a slight Black majority because many Blacks had come to work in the shipyards. Of course, Blacks were very afraid to act up at the time, so they behaved well in school and if my mom's yearbook is any example, they learned to read and write rather well indeed. They also were well represented in athletics, but even the athletes could read and write. My mom loved school and did not understand my problems. I was becoming very racist. I thought that I would love to live in an all white neighborhood. When I saw blond people I was fascinated and charmed. I began to resent my mother for choosing to move back to the city she grew up in. I felt that my life would have been so much better if we lived among our own people. This is not to say that I did not have Black friends. My first boyfriend was a Black nerd who's mom was a nurse from Jamaica. I hung around at alternative school with the Black students. I seemed to be able to form bonds with individuals, but that didn't change the fact that I wanted to be away from Blacks for the most part. I felt I was just too sensitive and that they were too insensitive and that we could never live together.
On the other hand, I was interested primarily in Black music. I would listen to my mom's Miriam Makeba record over and over again. I loved the blues and motown and above all Bob Marley. I could however, distance myself from Bob's lyrics. I knew that Blacks were still struggling in many parts of the world and I wished them well and well away from me. I did not wish ill on Blacks and I never wanted them to be humiliated or hurt again, I just wished that they could behave like civilized people should. In fact, I knew that Blacks were capable of it and I didn't understand why, when it would have been easier, they wouldn't just go with the flow. I wanted for Blacks what I wanted for my own children. I wanted them to be able to go anywhere, any country. I wanted them to behave in a mannerly fashion that would make them acceptable to anyone. I wanted them to be able to span the classes and the races and speak intelligently on many subjects.
I used to babysit for rich families and the developmental differences between the Black kids I saw regularly on public transit and those rich children were immense. Even the rich kids that had behavioral problems had huge vocabularies and could express curiosity and get feedback from adults. But the little Black kids would be treated like irritating adults by their teen age mothers. the poor kids would get ignored if they asked questions about birds or dogs or anything else. The differences were staggering. I began to lose all hope of anything changing for the better.
Then I got a job in Oakland. I was in the lower job classification due to my lack of job skills and education. I was one of the few whites in this job class. I was surrounded by Black women. These women started out being incredibly kind to me. I had an incident with my mom that made me very angry and I wanted to report her for welfare fraud. A Black girl I worked with talked me out of it. They told me to join the Credit Union so that I could get a car. One of them helped me find my first apartment in downtown Oakland. I remember she asked the manager of one of the apartment buildings if the place had "meeces". When the woman said, "It depends on how clean you are'" my friend dragged me out right then. Every pay day the black girls would go out to the Sizzler and they would invite me. They were naughty about men and it was a lot of fun to be with them. I had always been a fancy dresser for a white girl and I felt more comfortable dressed up with them than with my slovenly white friends.
I also met older, genteel Black ladies from the South, that cared very much indeed about education and culture. I worked with them for three years. I moved to Fremont California with a boyfriend. I missed Oakland dearly. I missed the sight and sounds of Black people. I did not know how much a part of me they had become . My boyfriend would bring a gun everytime he came to pick me up in Oakland. I thought this was funny, that he was so scared. I still had scary incidents sometimes with Black men on the street, but it seemed more bearable. I also heard of scary racist incidents from my Black friends. One Black girl's boyfriend was fishing with his dad and some white guys came and forced them to eat their bait at gun point.
The worst incident that happen to me was that my sister and I went to a restaurant that had hired a well known Creole chef from New Orleans, for a special night of Creole food and music. The chef had just written a book. We took our Latino boyfriends. First they seated us in a back room at a makeshift table (reserved especially ior whites and latinos, I guess). We were never served, and neither saw nor heard from a waiter again. We saw an opportunity to move to a table in the main dining room (the only dining room). We moved to a central location and were still ignored. We finally left, starving, but knowing that it was useless to complain. I blame my sister for wearing Braids!! She looked too good in them!! There are two sides to every story and as bad as some of the situations I have been in seem to me, they are nothing compared with eating raw chicken livers at gun point in the dark in Tracy.
I always felt that I was just spending the night in Fremont but my heart was still in Oakland. I eventually moved back. Then I was transferred to another department. There again I made instant friends with the Black people that worked in that department. I felt more at home with them than anyone. I have had many friendships with many Black men and women at work and they have been very supportive of me. One of the guys is from Philly and he is a photographer and he likes to talk to me about art and living on the East coast. We have much in common. I go to Black people's weddings and funerals and crab feeds, where there are about 490 Blacks to 10 whites.
I became pregnant at the age of 42 and one of the Black women, a newer employee, used to take me out to dinner and take me grocery shopping, because I didn't have a car. She didn't even know me that well, but she was an immense help to me.
While all this is happening to me, I am realizing that many things I thought were not true, but many are. These women believe anything the Union and the Democrats tell them. Most of these women have man trouble. They are willing to share men with other women for fear of being alone. They support their children with very little, if any, help from the fathers. They rely too heavily on corporal punishment of their children. Some of the beatings that they tell about seem to border on abuse and also seem to be ineffective in changing their children's behavior. They spend a fortune on clothes for their children. Money I feel could be better spent at finding an apartment in a better neighborhood with better schools. I ride the bus wth a woman that travels on the bus everyday to another city to take her Black daughter to a school in Chinatown where the academic standards are very high. That child is doing great in school. I walked by the school once and she was asking some Chinese girls if she could join a Chinese jump rope game. The Chinese girls shot her down. I felt bad for her, but as long as she does well in school, success is the best revenge.
Most of these women have troubled family members. They are not good with money. They get pregnant when they know that they shouldn't. They have substance abuse problems. Many of the things that happen to them seem preventable to me, but impossible to avoid for them. One of the reasons that they run out of money is that they are so generous. They are the most loyal people on earth. I know that the Chinese help family, but it is not in an unconditional way like Blacks do. I hear about neices and nephews and grandbabies and all the extended family members getting money, food and support, sometimes at the expense of the person giving the aid. Blacks are loyal and they do it out of love. I sometimes think that they shouldn't help these relatives, that it does more harm than good and that they should think of themselves for a change, but they are most unselfish and they might feel worse if they didn't help.
We once had a worker that was new. She was a secret crack addict. She could not do her work at all. My co-worker and I, (the only two whites) were being driven insane by the mistakes this woman was making. One of the Black women I am very close with was covering up for the drug addict. We ended up not speaking for months because she was angry that we were picking on this Black woman and she had to protect her. She has admitted that she was wrong to do it, but it just is so ingrained she can't help it. So I see the fiercely loyal and protective nature of Black women in particular, nearly every day.
One of my best friends is a Black woman from Panama. She just does not see color and treats everyone the same. I had a mixed race boyfriend and he was a lot of things and unusual looking and everywhere we went people would ask him what he was. My friend from Panama never asked. One time I asked her about it and she said, "You know I don't care about such things," When she brings pictures from her church, you see that it is a multiracial congregation. She also lives in a neighborhood in Vallejo with her African American husband and they are among the very few Blacks that live there and they get along with everybody. She recently went to the Grand Canyon with another Black friend and she did say that although they were the only Blacks at the dude ranch they stayed at, they were treated like royalty. I wish we could all be like my friend. Expect the best, because you deserve it. Treat everyone as you'd like to be treated yourself.