Guest Writer Spotlight: Racism and “Color” as seen through the eyes of a child

Adapted from a Facebook post by Rita Slayton

 

Indulge an old lady for a minute.

I was a little girl in the 60’s. When I was in kindergarten we were learning about different colors. Red, blue, green, white, orange, black, yellow.

One Saturday I was going to the rock quarry with my father when he stopped for gas at a gas station he had stopped at for as long as I could remember.

I had to go potty so I went to use the bathroom. When I got around to the back of the gas station I saw there was a sign that said “NO COLORS.” Well, I was white and my teacher had taught me white was a color.

I turned around and went back to the truck and we left the gas station.

Once we were back on the road I started to do the pee-pee wiggle. When my father asked what was wrong with me, I told him I had to potty.

He wanted to know why I hadn’t gone while we were at the gas station. I told him I couldn’t because the sign by the bathroom said NO COLORS and my teacher said white was a color.

My father turned that truck around and we headed right back to the gas station.

By the time we got back, there was a black family there with a little girl about my age doing the same wiggle I was.

My father walked up to her and asked, “Girl, you gots to make potty?” She said, “Yes Sir.”

Without hesitation, he walked past the girl and said come on.

We walked to the back of the gas station and my father knocked that NO COLORS sign right off the wall into a trash pile. He then told me to let the other girl go first because she looked like she needed to go worse than me.

While I was waiting, the owner of the gas station suddenly came around to the back of his station and asked what my father thought he was doing.

My father looked right at him and said, “We got a few girls here needing to potty, so they doing it.”

When the owner asked where the sign went, my father said, “It’s over there with the rest of the trash.” 

After I finished and as we got back in the truck I was worried and confused, but my father said, “Oh I won’t be going back there again.”

As we drove off, my father told me you never look at color unless it’s in a rainbow or a flower. In people, you look at their spirit and heart. 

That’s how racism was explained and taught to me by my father.

 

 

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