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Growing Up Racist: Let’s Stop Pretending Our Southern Childhood Didn’t Mold Us

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Growing Up Racist: Southern Pride or a Bunch of Lies?

Trigger Warning: If you are a person of color, you should know that this post shares racists remarks and ideas I heard as a child and young adult.


I care about black people just as much as I care about anyone else.

Those were my words, and I believed them.

I believed that my upbringing in Loris, SC, and Sanford, NC, had in no way molded who I was a person, but I was wrong.

My Racism Was Showing:

Then this happened in my home state of SC, and my online friends started posting about it.

Of course, I had to weigh in. On a prominent Black bloggers page, I made comments that went something like this:

I don’t understand why this has to be about race. If the girl had done what she was supposed to do, this would have never happened.

This gracious blogger commented on my post and blocked me.

I was FURIOUS. She was racist, freaking reverse racism at it’s finest. Not to mention, she would post things on her personal Facebook page that were directed at her friends of color. How dare she post on her page asking only her girlfriends of color to answer a question she had.

Obviously, she hates White people.

God Broke My Racist Heart:

Then this happened

As I listened to this live broadcast of the IF: Gathering conference, I was attending from home God broke my heart. I started crying uncontrollably and couldn’t understand why. It was like the scales fell from my eyes, and I could see and understand white privilege, white fragility, and the racism that molded me.

I immediately joined Be The Bridge and struggled to keep my mouth shut for their “silence waiting period.” After that period (I believe it was three months), I came away even more understanding of how much I had to learn about being white and the life of minorities around me.

I eventually emailed that gracious blogger to apologize for what I said that day and how I made her feel.

The Southern Pride Racism That Molded Me :

I am only 37 years old, which means that my childhood was not that long ago. These are the things I grew up hearing. I heard these from close family members, friends of my family, teachers, and of course movies, and the news.

Growing Up Racist: South Carolina

  • White girls who dated black boys were called “N—– Lovers”
  • Statues depicting black jockeys used as lawn ornaments were called “Little N—– ‘s”
  • We had an area of town in Loris, SC known as the “N—– Bottom”. That is where all the bad stuff happened and the black people that lived there were on drugs, prostitutes, and drunks.
  • Abolishing slavery was the reason our country was such a disaster.
  • Confederate soldiers were heroes to be worshiped.
  • Our evenly mixed White and black student choir sang and danced to pick a bale of cotton. Lyrics below for reference to how ridiculous it was that White children were singing this proudly while black children were singing it to their parent’s mortification.

Oh, Lawdy, pick a bale a cotton
Oh, Lawdy, pick a bale a day

You got a jump down, turn around
Pick a bale a cotton
Got a jump down, turn around
Pick a bale a day

Me an’ my partner can
Pick a bale a cotton
Me an’ my partner can
Pick a bale a day

Had a little woman could
Pick a bale a cotton
Had a little woman could
Pick a bale a day

Went to Corsicana to
Pick a bale a cotton
Went to Corsicana to
Pick a bale a day

I b’lieve to my soul I can
Pick a bale a cotton
I b’lieve to my soul I can
Pick a bale a day

  • I learned early on that black men were extremely dangerous, and black women were sexual deviants.
  • I heard comments like “If you don’t like this country you can go back to where you belong.”
  • Or “It’s not our fault there are slaves in this country, it was their own people that sold them”
  • Black people smell different. It’s probably all of the oil on their skin.
  • They also have gross and nappy hair. When they braid it or wear cornrows they look like gang bangers. When they wear afros they are probably rebel hippies or worse terrorists like the Black Panthers.
  • In case that didn’t sink in. The Black Panthers were terrorists!
  • I wasn’t afraid of the KKK. They were just regular old grandpas and their sons wearing stupid sheets and standing up for what they believed in. They would never hurt anyone.
  • Jesus is White

Growing Up Racist: North Carolina

This is what I learned when I moved from Loris to Sanford, NC at the age of twelve:

  • Some black people were really like White people because they had good jobs and they spoke like White men. Even though it’s hard to believe after years of hearing otherwise, there might just be some good black people out there after all.
  • All Mexicans are wetbacks. I never knew what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.
  • Mexican men were to be feared and despised for their desires for America (White) women. Even though no one knows what they are saying in Spanish, they are most likely saying they want to have sex with you when they look at you and say something to their friends.
  • “This entire country is going to have to learn how to speak Spanish now. It’s ridiculous. If you’re going to come to our country learn to speak English!”
  • Mexicans steal all of our (White people’s) jobs.
  • But also, Mexican people make horrible pay because they do jobs no one else will do, you know because they don’t have an education.
    Well, mostly because they are illegals and have to work for money under the table.
  • White girls should never date Mexicans!
  • Black people get special treatment because laws force employers to hire them for jobs in the name of diversity and equality. Really it’s just black people mooching off the system like they always do. It’s either Welfare or getting jobs just because they are black. They are so lucky that years of slavery basically bought their future children years of a free ride thanks to taxpayers like us.
  • Jesus is White

These thoughts and ideas, along with millions of others, were written on my heart. I didn’t even realize I was afraid of Black men until I watched the video I shared above and a few days later locked my door in the parking lot of Food Lion when I saw a Black man walking near my car.

You don’t just realize something like this and make a change because it takes time to peel back all the layers of what you’ve learned. Our entire system is set up for white people to prosper. That’s it. So while you may believe slavery and Jim Crow are things of the past, you are wrong. Systemic racism is real.

Even as an adult I’ve witnessed how racist Christians can be without realizing that it’s a learned fear/hate (portrayed in the media, movies, and music) that crosses every state line (yes, even the mighty “North”).

New England Racism:

When I was living on Cape Cod I remember a discussion at Bible Study about the Katrina refugees coming to Cape Cod to live on Otis Air Force base. They were given housing, a pre-paid phone, and money for food and clothing from the government after losing everything.

Women in this group were afraid for the Cape because these people who they saw on the news looting diapers and food were coming into “our” community.

If you’ve ever been to Cape Cod you know they really don’t have many residents of color. So even though the “North” claims to have fought for the freedom of slaves, they obviously had their own fears of Black people to deal with. It’s easy to say you love minorities when you don’t have to live with them.

The crazy thing is I remember being outraged (on the inside of course) by these racist attitudes. I grew up with Black people. They had never hurt me. These people were hurting and needed our help. In my mind, I was so much better than these women and this proved that I wasn’t racist. Also, Jesus is White.

I’m sharing this with you in hopes that you will take the time to examine your own life experiences. Question the things you’ve grown up believing. Take a hard look at your choices and ask yourself if it’s possible that you may believe things about minorities that simply aren’t true.

If you claim to be a follower of Christ, please start listening to the voices of people of color around you. Hear them and stop making excuses for yourself and our society.

Stop saying these hurtful racist things:

  • If only he/she hadn’t resisted.
  • MLK was a peaceful protestor, and he changed the world. – He was assassinated, and white people hated him, so just STOP!
  • Black football players don’t have the right to kneel during the anthem because they are on the job, and it’s “my time” to enjoy sports.
  • I’m not racists, BUT
  • White privilege isn’t real
  • Reserve racism is real
  • Candace Owens and the retired police officer who wears an Uncle Tom shirt on YouTube said, “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
  • All Lives Matter – If this were true, we wouldn’t need to say that Black Lives Matter and if you believed that All Lives Matter it wouldn’t bother you to say that Black Lives Matter because you would believe they do.
  • Understand that someone can love Black lives and not hate the cops. I can hate cops murdering all people, without hating all police officers.

Educate yourself and listen!

Need resources? Check out this list from Be The Bridge

Can you relate to growing up racist? If so, what do you plan to do to end this cycle?

Live in Northern Virginia? Check out these Black-owned businesses!

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Leanne Petersen

Saturday 27th of June 2020

Very powerful and revealing. Shasta, I applaud your courage and conviction. It is amazing to find that you are way out there and still have the same passion and conviction that I hold regarding human rights. I regret that we have spent our lives so far apart, I know that we would’ve had a great friendship.

Shasta Walton

Monday 29th of June 2020

Thanks, Leanne. I hope I get to see you again soon. I think we could have some great conversations. <3

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