Thursday, March 26, 2009

You wanna hug it out?

So like I said in my very first post, when I was growing up, I always knew that I was black. I probably didn't always know, but I've known for a really long time. It wasn't something that I thought about really, unless I was reminded of it for some reason. Today we're going to take a trip down memory lane, and talk about one of those early times that I was reminded.

I was in 3rd grade. It was MLK day, or a day surrounding that day, because wouldn't we have had that day off from school? Anyhoo, we are all sitting on the floor watching a video of his famous I have a Dream speech. I am sitting watching the speech, pretty much minding my own business. There was this girl sitting around me, I'll call her Carrie.

Now, Carrie and I were not enemies, but we definitely were not friends. We didn't eat lunch together, we didn't play at recess together, we didn't go to each others houses after school--we didn't do any of the things that 3rd grade friends typically do. So she is sitting near me, not next to me--because we also didn't sit next to each other during videos.

So we're both listening to Dr. King talk about "little children" and "content" and "character," and the next thing I know this Carrie chick comes out of nowhere and puts her arms around me! I'm laughing thinking about it, because I distinctly remember thinking, "What in the heck is this girl doing?!" It was extremely awkward. I remember that I didn't respond in kind, so we're just sitting there for awhile while she's hugging me and I'm watching the video. She eventually stopped, and that was the end of it. It was never brought up again, and that was my first (and last) Carrie hug.

Why am I telling that story? Because I think what she did was weird. I get that she may have been moved by the speech, but the response to that is not to invade the personal space of someone that you don't even know that well who happens to be the same race as the speaker. As a wise person once said--all relationships are essentially about boundaries, and that chick was definitely violating mine. I wonder what was going through her head--was she happy that there was a black kid in her class? Was she sad that Dr. King was dead? Something else that I don't know?

So, that concludes this episode of the adventures of myblackfriendsays: classroom edition.

As always, I welcome your comments.


  1. Anonymous3:18 PM

    LOL! Since we're talking about MLK day... I grew up a little white girl in a predominantly black area in central AL. My birthday usually falls on or around MLK day, and in my narcissistic juvenile mind I always thought that we got off the second Monday in January because of my birthday. In elementary school, after I had gotten myself into trouble with my classmates a few times because of that particular viewpoint, my mom finally had to get me a book on MLK Jr's life and sit me down and said...

    "Now, AM... There is a very important reason people don't have to go to school that day, and it has nothing to with your birthday!"

    Now, of course, I understand ;)

  2. Anonymous7:31 PM

    What if she didn't recognize your race either? What if she was just hugging you because you were closest to her when she felt that emotion? Just a thought.

  3. Anonymous11:05 PM

    While I can understand you trying to figure it out because I would. The problem with coming up with an answer is at this stage of life it's hard to see things through the mind of a 3rd grader.

    If you can't put her thoughts and actions into your thoughts about what she did, you will never have a good answer.

    Trying to put todays, adult values on the actions of kids is like viewing history with todays values.

  4. It is obvious from your post that racism is too important to you to ever overcome.

  5. Anonymous8:53 PM

    I think "Carrie" was trying to say, "Wow. It must be tough for you, being black. I want you and all the other classmates to know I accept you."

    I think I would've thought it was sweet....unless, of course, her other actions contradicted the hug.