This response comes to us from Cat. She shares her own experience with racial identity from 50 years ago.
This essay begs us to revisit the age-old question of ‘what is racial identity to my same and/or different race?’ Is it skin color? Is it colloquial language? Is it attitude? Is it heritage or upbringing? I find it quite interesting that we struggled with this same question at that same age. I’m way past 17, but recall this very issue when I moved to DeRidder as a high school freshman in the early 1970s. As an Army brat transplanted from the north, I faced much racial strife as I navigated the halls of the brand new DeRidder High School facility. There was a turf war raging for control of the new high school. Trying to fit in, as most Army brats know, I spoke to everyone, regardless of skin color. For the first time in my life, I was attacked and ridiculed because I didn’t “stick to my own.” So, here’s the continuing question…who were ‘my own?’ White farm kids with rifles in the back window of their pick-up trucks? No. Black kids trying to make their way in a bigoted Southern town? No. So, what has changed over the past 50 years? Not much, I’m afraid. The search for racial identity continues and it appears that, at least nationally, we are going backwards.
Thank you, Cat for speaking your truth and helping to define and historically expand on the 17-year-old high school student’s search for Identity.
Who’s next? Please send your comments on this piece and/or the 17-year-old high school student’s piece to email@example.com.