I want to tell you about my first encounter with true racism.

Growing up in Louisiana in the late 1970’s, it was living and breathing and it was everywhere, and it managed to caress all of our lives in strange little ways. I was a kid back then, and it happened something like this.

My first day of Kindergarten.

I would like to say that I didn’t cry, that I was completely self-assured and confident even at the ripe ole age of six but that would probably be a lie.  It was a traumatic change, and without doubt I felt it hard.


To be clear, my usual defense in scenes previously uncharted is to hunker down. This means simply, to be quiet and to listen and to watch everyone around me. We learn faster and better from those around us. I’ve always tried to be mindful, so I open up only after I’m comfortable with the situation.

My first day of Kindergarten.

The teacher laughed and smiled and played her part beautifully, but only while my parents were within shouting distance. As soon as they left, she turned mean.. like the transformation from gentle old lady in the woods into a horrible old witch. She was probably in her early 30’s but I’ve come to believe that she undoubtedly hated her job, hated the kids and above all else.. hated the kids who looked like me.

My skin color, my hair and eye color were all wrong… and she hated me for it. This caregiver of small children became unhinged, simply because I represented everything she could never be.

Exaggeration? A fevered memory of a time now long gone?

Mayhaps, but no.. I tell ya true mister.


My first day of Kindergarten.

On day one, I was brought to the front of the class to shed my skin, and tell the class my tales of woe. I was to simply state my name, and give a brief description of who I am and what I liked (or something of to that effect).

I hunkered down at first, before slowly walking this green mile.

Facing my peers, most of which were probably chewing on crayons or monkeying around with safety scissors, I did as I was asked and told my story with tears running down my cheeks undoubtedly. All I can recall is that her fingers were clawing into the nape of my neck as I stammered out what was required. They dug in deeper the more scared I became.

It was a nightmare, and I was six years old.

After school, my parents saw the marks on my neck and there was an entirely separate story about what came next, but that’s not relevant. What is relevant is that my teacher hated me because of my skin color. Hate so pervasive that she used physical recourse against a six year old, whom she had just met and had never wronged her.

That remains my first memory of my first day of school, and my first encounter with true racism. It shaped my whole life, and at times I can still feel the blood as it trickles down the back of my neck. Four lines, a badge of honor given to me on that fateful day from a hateful person with Lee Press On Nails.

It has shaped my whole life.


-I am Crandew




Talk to Crandew

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