Just saw Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine and at one point in the film he talks about how white America is afraid of black America because of the news. Well it reminded me of a story about me that my mother told me.
When I was a child my mother noticed that I was afraid of black men (I’m white by the way). I grew up in a Italian-American suburb of New York called Little Falls, New Jersey. I don’t think there was one black person that lived in that town until fairly recently. All that I knew of black people was what I saw on the news. And as Michael Moore pointed out in his film the news always focused on black men getting arrested for a shooting, robbery, rape, sodomy (a child doesn’t know what that means only that it’s bad), etc. So I was afraid of them.
I think my mom noticed that I physically flinched when I saw a black man while walking around the city. Ultimately my mother had to bring me to Paterson, the nearest place that had black people. There we went to a school, dropped off some things, and I talked to my first black “man”. It was a teenager, but to me he was this big scary man. He talked to me, was nice, and I remember getting back into the car and my mom saying to me, “Now Ashley, wasn’t that man nice?” And he was of course, and I said so. She then pointed out to me that “See all black men are not like the bad ones you see on the news. And there are white men who do the same things that the black men do on the news.”
I was 5. A 5 year old shouldn’t have this type of fear. They shouldn’t be racist, especially when they have parents who aren’t.
My fear, and probably valid since “Bowling for Columbine” touched on it, is that there are many people my age whose parents never did that. And they continue to live in fear of blacks for no reason at all.