Maybe this thread has already been done…if so, I apologize.
While reading the threads on gaybashing and stereotypes and the like lately I started thinking about the first time I can ever remember being exposed to such things and what kind of an effect it had on me.
It was 1982 and I was 7 years old. My parents had decided I needed to take piano lessons so we went to a well respected college in town that had an outstanding fine arts program. My mother and I met with the director of the program and she told us there were 2 teachers taking new students.
I remember sitting there and kind of paying attention to the lady but then she started talking about one of the teachers a lot more than the other one. She told my mother that she thought it would be a “better fit” if I was in Ms. A’s class instead of Ms. B’s.
My mother asked her why and the lady looked at me and then back to my mother and whispered, "Because Ms. B is B-L-A-C-K.
I remember thinking, “Hey…I’m seven…I can spell, lady.”
Now my mother was raised in a time period where the N-word was used frequently. She was brought up in a home where people of color were thought to be beneath white people. BUT…my mother never taught me nor my sister to be racist. In fact, she always strived to teach us to evaluate people on how they treated us…not on how they looked.
I distinctly remember my mother getting The Look on her face and then she cleared her throat and politely asked the lady, “Well which teacher is better qualified musically?”
The lady said that she really didn’t think it was a good idea to put me in Ms. B’s class and that I would probably be happier in Ms. A’s class, blah.blah.blah.
My mother then asked her again which teacher was the best and the director reluctantly said Ms. B was.
I will never forget my mother’s response: “Then that is who my daughter will have.” And we got up and left. We never spoke about it but I will never forget the impact that made on me.
I ended up taking lessons from Ms. B for 10 years. For the first 4 years I was her only white student and me and the other students always made jokes about the recitals where they would call me the cream in between all the oreo cookies.
I don’t play the piano much anymore but I love music and that love came from Ms. B and all she taught me.
I have often wondered what would have happened if my mother had gone along with the director and put me in the other class. And how sad it was that the director of this fine program could have been so ignorant.
So what stories do you remember and how did they affect you?