My Ignorance

I grew up in a semi-rural county in the San Francisco Bay Area, Everyone in our small town was white except for one Chinese family whose daughter was my friend in school.

I assumed most other Chinese people lived in the San Francisco Chinatown because they wanted to be with other people like themselves. And I thought all the African American people lived in Marin City for the same reason.

Every year before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and freeway were built we’d drive through Richmond at Christmas on our way to my cousins’ house. I’d see lots of African-American out playing on their new bikes and other things my family couldn’t afford. I assumed they were rich.

When I was eleven years old I was sent to the Stanford Convalescent home because of my severe asthma. The only other kid my age there was an African American boy. To me he was just a boy and I didn’t think about his race. Other than him, I never knew anyone else who was African-American until I gotta college.

That was when when the Civil Rights movement began, and was horrified to learn about all the prejudice and discrimination that existed.

I didn’t participate in any protests, but I did go door to door in Oakland getting African-Americans to register to vote.

When the Civil Rights Act passed I assumed prejudice would be eliminated.

The Bay Area became integrated and I didn’t pay any more attention to people’s race than to their clothes or hair styles. Lots of my friends and even some of my relatives were African American.

Of course I knew there were still some bigots in the world, but I assumed there weren’t many people like that. Boy, was I ever wrong!

Posted in

Janet Ann Collins

Leave a Comment