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When I Was Seven

When I was seven, I lived in a town 20 minutes outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, called River Ridge. I was a little second grader with innocence that only the world can take away from us. I was just like any other kid in the sense that I wanted friends, loved my family, and was excited to go to school. However, something happened to me at this age that has forever impacted me as an individual.

Mrs.Duke was my teacher. I remember her not being very nice and all of us kids would bond over that fact. I had a friend named Ryan who I sat next to in class. We got along pretty well and would talk about all types of things like television and toys and what was for lunch each day. One day, I told Ryan that we should hang out and play together. In my mind, this was a perfectly innocent assertion. I liked to play. Everyone likes to play, right? However, what came next surprised me and threw me off the rest of the day. Ryan, whom I thought I’d become great friends with, said, “My parents say I’m not allowed to play with black people.” As an innocent kid who barely even knew what cuss words were, I was taken aback. I was confused. I was not sure what he meant and why me being black affected our capability to climb the monkey bars.

That was the first experience I can clearly remember when the color of my skin changed the way someone saw me. I realized then that, for reasons I couldn’t yet understand, there were people that did not like me for simply existing.

After that experience, I became very aware of prejudice and racism in society on a day-to-day basis. The discrimination was everywhere.  The way people treated my parents for being immigrants. The way people at places like church would move over or shift as we sat down. The looks and sometimes unnecessary monitoring we would get a restaurants and stores. I even saw racism when my parents were refused a rental property that they could easily pay for.

Racism, prejudice, and hatred exist. I know this from personal experience and so do many others who are like me. Don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend it is not there because it is, and it causes pain and suffering for many Americans. Educate yourself, listen to others’ stories and try your hardest to spread love and light. Maybe one day we can be at a point when a second grader can just worry about whether pizza or chicken nuggets is for lunch that day.

Chinazor Offor is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Fashion Merchandising while seeking a certificate in New Media. You can usually find her dividing time between Her Campus UGA, watching game of thrones, and planning her move to sunny LA upon graduation. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@thechicrevolt).
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