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Revisiting times of prejudice

After visiting the Middletown Art Center exhibit that Corine Pearce curated (the exhibit of contemporary Native art and the first curated by an indigenous person), and then going to the play Driving Miss Daisy at the Soper Reese, prejudice was on my mind.

I remember the time when I went to Florida with my father. I was about 5 years old. While we were still in the airport, I was thirsty, and I went to get a drink from a water fountain. Above the fountain was the sign, “Whites Only.” Can you imagine the confusion of a young child who had never seen prejudice so up close and personal? Who had never seen any prejudice.

That incident colored my perception of racism for my entire life.

When my beloved grandma spoke of how scared she was when the complexion of her neighborhood in Downtown Detroit changed from White to Black, I got mad. I couldn’t understand her fear; the fear of an elderly White woman who lived alone on West Grand Blvd, across from the General Motors Building. The only other time I got mad at her was when she watched her stupid soap opera during my visit. That and her TV heartthrob Lawrence Welk. We had plenty of great times, though. She’d let me put on her dark red cinnamon-colored lipstick that I lightened with her cover makeup until it was a bright orange tangerine color. I must have looked ridiculous, but Grandma took me over to her hairdresser to show me off. No judgement on me, ever, from her.


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