As a child I spent my formative years growing up in Detroit, Michigan and New Jersey just outside
Philadelphia. It was not until around the age of 11 or 12 after moving to West Virginia I was called “NIGGER” for the first time. While I had heard the word before, I was being called that as if it was my name.
While in college years later, I completed a phone interview for employment. I was offered employment and instructed to come to the office to sign employment documents. After arriving and introducing myself to a man behind the desk, I was told there was no job opening and a mistake had been made. I explained I had a phone interview and was offered employment. Again, I was told there was no job opening and that a mistake had been made. After hearing that the second time I realized there was NO job – at least not for me.
As I drove home it occurred to me that the man did not know I was Black until I walked through the door. My Mother (pictured with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) was an English teacher and she assisted me in completing a flawless resume that was grammatically correct, and my diction and enunciation over the phone was “as it should be” to be offered employment. This was the only thing that made sense as I replayed the look on his face in my head when I told him that I had interviewed with him over the phone.
Every time an opportunity is taken away from someone because of Race it perpetuates an injustice that runs very deep.
I am fortunate I was raised in a home where I never heard who to dislike or not to love because of the color of their skin, religion, culture, ethnicity or RACE. This has had a profound impact on me as a man, husband and most importantly, a human being. I am fortunate to have met and married my wife who shares the same values and embraces diversity. Racism is a learned behavior that needs to be unlearned. This is why I RACE.
To join Todd and YWCA Race to End Racism, go to https://www.ywcacharleston.org/race and sign up to walk or run individually, create team or become sponsor.