In my junior year of high school, our grade had two electives to choose from to fulfill our U.S. history requirement. The classes offered were 1) Modern U.S. History (MUSH) and 2) Modern U.S. History - African American Experience. The initial distinction between general history and history from the “African American Perspective” already seemed a little odd to me (and even more disconcerting as I have gotten older). I also felt like it was an obvious choice to take that class as every other history class I had ever taken up to that point was from the white perspective. The class was taught by a white woman named Ms.
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One evening during my freshmen year at Haverford, my friends and I went to the Dining Center to eat dinner. We ate and talked about our days as usual, but our conversation took an unfortunate turn. My friends, who I regarded as generally aware and sensitive to multicultural issues, began commenting on the group of Chinese international students sitting next to us, who were speaking in Chinese. They made comments ranging from insensitive to xenophobic like, "I don't understand why they are speaking in Chinese.
I went to go see my brother, Justin, at Colorado College. As I walked on the campus, I immediately realized that the majority of students were white or appeared to be white. The college is located near an extremely white town, Colorado Springs. I met my brothers’ friends, who all seemed white, but when we got into the car to go to someone’s house, I was introduced to this womyn who had darker skin than the rest of his friends.
She said, with a smile and chuckle, “Justin knows more about black history than I do. He knows all about the civil rights movement and I don’t know that much.”
Later on, my brother commented on her in particular, “Isn’t she great? She’s so down to earth. I love hanging out with her.”