In first grade, Lavelle Barnes was my friend and the first person that I remember interacting with daily who was black.  We were friends because we were the fastest boys in the first grade (I think that we were friends because I greatly admired him).  Lavelle was faster than I was because his legs were much longer than mine but it didn’t bother me.  I couldn’t do anything about my skinny, tooth-pick legs or that I wasn’t as fast as Lavelle. 

Two kids each named Jason were fast but we were even faster.  One of the Jasons was convinced that if you quoted the cartoon character Speedy Gonzalez, you would run faster.  I found that hypothesis to be false.  The four of us would race all of the time but Lavelle would always win.  I was more interested in beating the Jasons.

One Friday, Lavelle was supposed to spend the night at my house.  For some reason, it didn’t work out. 

I have no idea what happened to Lavelle after the first grade.

When was the first time you noticed racial diversity?

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  1. When I was born my family was part of a “fellowship” group that was run by an interracial family (black father, white mother). I don’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t know them and I don’t know that it ever occurred to me that it was out of the ordinary. I remember later in life, as a young teenager, watching a movie that had a white supremacist who was targeting interracial couples on a college campus. That might be the first time that I had really seen how deep the opposition can be. I’m sure it was presented to me earlier in life but I tend to be oblivious of things.

  2. my best friend, Jasmine in preschool was african american. one day on the play ground a little boy called her black, he used it in a way that was a put down. one day at home while frustrated with my brother, I called him “a black”. I got in so much trouble for using derogatory terms. I explained to my mom I didn’t understand what the word meant and didn’t know it was a bad word. She explained to me racial diversity that night.
    I’m pretty sure thats how it happened. It’s one of those fuzzy memories that I remember because it’s brought up at the dinner table.

  3. Anonymous

    In 5th grade an African-American boy moved into the lily white confines of Roanoke Elementary School. As my first memorable, up-close interaction with someone of a different race, he came to represent all people of color to me. This was not fair, and for a time probably served to confirm many of the racist sentiments that were explicitly and implicitly expressed by family and friends. It’s been a long, slow journey since then to realize and come to terms with my own racial identity. The slow and embarrassing process continues.

  4. Google Barnes and see what you can find out.

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