Going to School in Florida Taught Me Race Realism

I grew up in Florida, attending schools that had students of every race, and always a large number of Puerto Ricans. This is my story of what I saw, denied, and then accepted.

I was around eight-years-old when I was first called it. My class and another were out playing at the school playground during recess when it happened. Being at the top of the set where the fire pole comes down, I yelled to the kid at the bottom on all fours like a dog something along the lines of “Go away mutt!” in a playful tone. “Racist” was what he called me afterwards. It felt horrible; I knew I was not racist and my intention in what I said was innocent.

Flash forward to eleven and the behavior of black students started to become apparent. A kid who was particularly popular at the lunch table was as edgy as a fifth grader could be – he cursed frequently and said rude things about others around him. He would frequently get in trouble for his antics, but it made me wonder: Why was he the only one misbehaving, at least on his level?

In 2013, me and my family moved away to a small, quaint town renting a Victorian era house that made me feel a strong connection to the pioneers of the early part of Floridian history. It was recently renovated but still largely original. It is inspiring to know I lived in the same home that some of the first white men and women created to thrive in this swampy and hot region of the United States.

But while life at home was peaceful, my life in 6th grade was dark — figuratively and literally. This school must have been around 30 percent black, 50 percent white, and 20 percent Hispanic. The school made me feel unsafe and the attitude of the teachers felt hardened and distant which was probably their coping mechanism to the chaos.

Lunch period had an inside and outside component. I usually was outside but on this day I was inside. Self-segregation was apparent in the seating arrangements. The blacks had their table while whites and Hispanics had their sections or sat together if they had mutual interests. The lunchroom was always loud but the volume from the blacks must have been at least 10 decibels higher. And if one made a mistake in the domineering social hierarchy, he would certainly receive the stare of death. While that doesn’t always result in a fight, one day it did. Two beefy black boys who looked many years older than their age started staring fiercely and the attention was on them from everyone in the room. Then one grappled the other and the white cop leaped in out of nowhere and swooped the black off his feet like a gracious figure skater! He was carried out like a guitar case while the other was subdued by teachers and staff. All of this felt so scripted. How did everyone know they were about to fight? I was starting to sense something around this time.

During that year of hell were other bad experiences. One day while walking to my next period after lunch, out of nowhere a black student began punching my face and running back and forth to do it again several times. But it wasn’t a real punch. He was only trying to get as close as possible to my face without making contact. It was bizarre and unprovoked. I didn’t even know who this was! I figured it was probably a dare someone did on me. At this point, along with the bullying by blacks I faced and the difference in punishment rowdy blacks got compared to whites (as if the teachers expected the blacks to misbehave), my mind was open to an explanation; I needed to know why these trends were occurring.

In 7th and 8th grade after my family moved back to my original home where the middle school I was zoned to was far better. Even my parents took note when I told them how the first day went. An inkling of me knew this was because there were far fewer blacks. But it wasn’t a beautiful white Christmas there. A black who was bullying a friend of mine (who was as white as his Celtic roots allowed) during gym. faced the wrath of my words. I called him the worst thing you can call a black person. I felt like a monster, but I had to defend my friend.

Remember how I was accused of racism? Some students felt so entitled to call their teacher that! In my English class that could never hold a teacher (we ended up having four different ones), one of them was this plain, elderly Southern white woman. Many of the students would never shut their mouths and cause a ruckus for the entire period – interrupting important reading that needed to be done. One of these students who was black had the gall to accuse the teacher of racism for holding him to account for his actions. What came next was insane: our teacher even agreed she could be racist, probably done to shock him. She never deserved this abuse and rightfully left afterwards.

“Racist.” It was like this word meant nothing. And that was how I began to feel. The behavioral problems of blacks (and to a lesser extent Hispanics, but still more than whites) was becoming too much to ignore. One YouTube channel I began to watch in 8th grade changed my life. Atheism Is Unstoppable was a controversial figure (who I later learned interviewed Mr. Taylor) who discussed his atheistic views but also his racial views.

Through his videos I learned the truth about the Trayvon Martin case, Tamir Rice, Alton Stirling, etc. And he also had evidence to back it up. I learned that the FBI through their Crime Victimization Survey proved the opposite of what the media and everyone else has been saying. I even told my father about these shootings and that they were justified. And when I went further about the crime rate disparity and how I think it isn’t a complete lifestyle circumstance, he was angry with me.

Over time, however, he started to accept what I thought. Even my high school German teacher, who was extremely liberal yet open minded, somewhat accepted my reasoning. I got into trouble for bravely mentioning the statistics in school – including in front of my black teacher. It was hilarious yet terrifying seeing them deny the truth that different races commit different amounts of crime.

Now that I am twenty and although my politics have shifted, my views on race have not. It should not be controversial to recognize we are all different and that genetics influences behavior.

I know one thing is for sure: I am not the only one with experiences like mine. I hope that every young white kid going through the same thing I did realizes their gut feeling and expands their mind against the racial programming.

Experiences lead us to the truth, and it is our choice whether to accept it.

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