Legend’s story written by Stephanie Winn
Legend is a pseudonym and she is 36 years old
When I first got here from Liberia, the change in school was like going straight from the second grade to seventh grade. My accent was real thick so I hated talking in class. I still get anxiety today to read in front of a big crowd. And you know, it was opposite of what you would think for me. Because it was the black kids that bullied me. They would call me names and make fun of me. They will ask the most crazy questions. They used to say, do you guys wear clothes in Africa? Do you guys have moms and dads? Like we’re not human. We just fall outta the sky and here we are. But, the white kids, they’d be real nice and interested in me. They’d ask me where I was from and think it was cool to hear about it.
My dad bought a house in a white neighborhood and we didn’t know it at the time, but the head of the Ku Klux Klan lived two doors down from us. In the beginning, it was bad because they thought we was straight up African American. And then one day, we was standing outside speaking our language cause our step mom, she didn’t know how to speak English, so we was speaking our language towards her and one of the guys came out. He was like, ”Where you guys from? We said, “We are from Africa. We’re African.” They was like, “Well you guys are different from the black Americans.” And we was like, “What’s the difference?”
But, after that it wasn’t bad for us anymore. And that’s how I started to know about racism towards black Americans.
Back at school, it was Black History Month. They showed one movie about slavery and that’s how I found out what was goin’ on between black and white people. I didn’t know about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, anybody before this. I would get upset at the white people for what they did and what they continue to do to the black people. But then I would get upset at the black people for not putting a foot down and changing their lives around. I heard people say, “Well, the white man holds us back.” That might be true, but there’s always a way around. I started doing my own research about what is going on. You know, I had to wonder, why is there just one month in a whole year to learn about our own history?
That’s what I learned in those books, and I learned a lot that first year just by the way I was treated. You see rumor has it, that, as an African, the Americans like us more than they like black Americans. I think that’s why the black kids at school didn’t like me. White people always seemed to like me better than them. Well, you know how high school is. Guys won’t date you ‘cause you’re dark skinned. They’d like the light skinned girls ‘cause that might be who is in the rap videos and on TV. And even grown people would stand there and say, “Oh, I don’t date black guys or Asian guys,” or whatever. I could never understand how adults could say this because what God may plan he didn’t say, oh you gonna be with this white person, he didn’t say that. And now, as an adult, I’m so thankful I didn’t accept what they said as truth. Because if I was racist, two of my sweet children wouldn’t even be here. I believe one way God shows the beauty of races coming together is through biracial people.
Yes, I am part of a beautiful biracial family, African American, black American, biracial, and white. And you know, it’s still hurtful and confusing because people assume we’re not together. At the grocery store, even though we’d be holding hands and talking, the cashier will be like, scan, scan, scan, “Your total’s $14.88.” Then look at me, “Can I help you?” Like she don’t know we’re together.
People need to ask God to help them start seeing things different. People who are straight up racist, they have no respect for God. Because we were made in the image of God and you don’t know what God look like, so how you gonna be racist?
This story originally appeared in Facing Racism in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by R.A.C.E. Muncie in Muncie, Indiana.