My parents were racist, but not extremely so. Just the normal amount for some people of their generation who grew up in the South. I believe their racism was rooted in ignorance. Not that they were unintelligent, and not that I consider myself more intelligent than they, they just never explored the reasons for their racism or racism in general. It was inherited, as is the case with some Southerners of that age.
I remember playing with dolls and pretending that they were my very own children as all little girls do, but I was different than other little girls around me. I used to pretend that my dollbabies all had different color skin and that they were adopted. Naturally the idea of adoption intrigues little children, but I had never been taught about adoption, and had never known anyone who had been adopted. I must have heard about it on TV or something.
In elementary school I played with black children, but my closest friends were white. Not because I had been specifically taught to do that, but because it was just a given, a normal part of the way things were.
Growing up I suppose I was indifferent to racism. I knew my parents did not prefer to be around black people so I stayed away for that reason, but I did not take the time to gather information to make an opinion of my own.
In middle school I found myself crushin' on a popular black boy. I never told a soul. Not even my best friend, and especially not my parents. I wasn't allowed to have boyfriends at the time, but I knew that even thinking about liking a black boy was a serious as smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, or stealing a car - maybe even more so.
The school system where I grew up was a joke. No learning, no discipline, and no safety. So when the time for high school came around my parents put me in a small private school. I went from being a racial minority to being able to count on one hand how many black people there were in the whole school. So in my late teens, when adolescents begin to form their own opinions about things, race was not prevalent in my life so I formed no opinion of my own.
As a young adult I began work in a place where there were less than ten employees. Two of those people were black. Now I had the chance to learn and form an opinion for myself. I was not consciously thinking this, but it was happening. They were both men and were some of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met. They both became father figures to me in a time when I was separated from my father, and then also when my father passed away. Had it not been for these two men I believe that I would not have been able to keep the great job I was so blessed to have and needed so much.
I do not know the day or even the year my opinion on racism was formed, but my opinion became to be that people are people; you can find good people and bad people in every race. The color of a person's skin has absolutely nothing to do with the person's character. Racism is ignorance and small-mindedness and is deplorable. As time went on my opinion became more and more firm.
I was at that job for five years before I moved out West. I married my husband a year later. We struggled a little bit with infertility. Two years later our first born, a daughter, was born still at twenty-four weeks gestation. A parent should never have to bury their child. Then we found out I had problems carrying a baby as well as conceiving. We began to feel, through divine inspiration, that there was an African-American baby girl in our future. We applied for adoption and were approved the weekend we found out we were pregnant again. Our file was put on hold while we waited to see if this pregnancy would produce a baby. With the help of modern medicine our son was born full term and healthy two months shy of two years from the day our daughter was born still. We felt certain that the African-American baby girl still belonged in our family so we put in papers to adopt on our son's first birthday. Five and a half months later our daughter was born. Her birthmother requested a closed adoption.