Ass-U-Me

TIMORIA McQUEEN

June 23, 1992|By TIMORIA McQUEEN

In the world, there are many different races of people who arechanging every day. Perhaps when one race speaks out their thoughts or beliefs, other races get angry or disagree. As a black person, I have experienced many situations dealing with one word we all know: racism. Some of the racism I feel for whites and other races has been provoked by myself, and some of it has been provoked by others.

When I was 7 years old, I never thought that much about racism until one incident caused me to look for it every day, every place that I went. My grandmother and my friend's grandmother took us on a vacation to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. When we got there, my friend Kisha and I were so excited that we hurried toward the pool right away. When we got to the pool area, only white kids were in there. It didn't really matter; I had a lot of white friends in Baltimore.

Kisha and I had not been in the pool five minutes, when this white man walked over to us. He told us to get out of the pool. I don't remember him saying it forcefully as you might misread it to be, but the point is he said it. Being 7, we didn't know what he was talking about. We just got out of the pool and went back to the hotel room.

My grandmother asked us why we chose to get out of the pool so fast. When we told her why, all she said was ''get back into the pool.'' So we did. We were in the pool about 10 minutes when I saw my granny walking on the boardwalk. I pointed to the man who told us to get out of the pool. My brain was doing cartwheels, and suspicions scratched my itching head. All I remember is my grandma having a lengthy conversation with the man about blacks in the pool. The man never spoke to us again, as if we cared.

Ever since this incident, I've wondered about the majority of white people. Were all white people going to look at me and see my color and stereotype me? I'm almost 14 now, but I still wonder, when I walk in a shoe store, will I be stared at by whites who assume that I am going to steal something? When I want to buy something expensive, will white people wonder where I got the money? Will most of them assume that I deal or use drugs?

L One word comes up in two of the above sentences: ''assume.''

If we were to break up the word ''assume'' we would see that it says ass-u-me. My granny used to and still tells me that assuming ''makes an ass out of you and me.''

One thing that has definitely gotten one race in trouble with another is the assumption. If one person within a race does something disrespectful, then other races automatically will think that the whole entire race of people are disrespectful. To me, assuming is the root of stereotypes and lies. Why can't we change the tide and get to know each other?

Timoria McQueen is an eighth-grader at Friends School. This essay was published in the Friends middle-school newspaper.

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