In comparison, the Black population nationwide is Here, as told to the Deseret News, are some experiences of Black Americans living in Utah and other overwhelmingly white states. People will come to my business and look me dead in the face and ask if they can speak to the owner.
I got pulled over once, and I actually had a cop ask me if this was my car, and what did I do to be able to afford it. I grew up in Virginia. When I moved to Utah as an adult, it was a struggle to maneuver through the business world, find true friends and some cultural diversity. Also, I had to learn how to deal with being offended constantly.
Most people are just comfortable. In my case, I have to be comfortable in my discomforts. My kids range in age from 5 to I still have to talk with my sons about how to act when they see police officers, and how they should act in certain neighborhoods. So how do we move forward from here? We all do. Maybe now after all this darkness, the arrival of dawn is upon us. The first time I realized I was different was when I was 3 years old. His mom looked at me, mortified. I got used to standing out, obviously.
I was born in Orlando, Florida, to a mother who was I was adopted by a white couple in Vermont when I was 3 or 4 months old. The public schools were ruthless.
There was a lot of name-calling. From fifth grade on, I was picked on every single day.
She claimed my mom had helped me out and said I needed to start doing my own work. This place has been ultimately disappointing, but also rewarding. You get used to it. One time, the ACLU represented me. He said my car smelled like marijuana. Eventually another officer showed up, and they had my car towed.
The case went to the state Supreme Court, and eventually we settled out of court. And people can sue the state for monetary damages when their civil rights are violated. So those are two great things that came out of this. I love Vermont; I love kayaking and hiking. Why should I have to give that up because some people are uncomfortable with me?
I was just about to turn into my neighborhood.
There have been a few blatantly racist things that have happened to me. In second grade, I had a friend who invited everyone else in our class to her birthday party except for me. After that, I felt like an outsider. I would hear things on the playground, kids saying my hair was ugly, or that I was fat.
One kid told me not to stay out in the sun because I would get too black.
I was the only African-American girl in the class. Surprisingly, none of the kids said it, but the teacher said it, multiple times. It triggered me. I got up and left the class. I had a lot of friends, I was in student government, and was on the yearbook staff and the cheer team. But racism was always there. And they stay with you.
Having a church community really helped. But when I got pulled over, my heart dropped; this was not a good situation. My dad had always told us not to drive with a hoodie on, not to give police any reason to stop you.
If you do get stopped, put your keys on the dash and explain all your movements. This was rehearsed; we knew what to do.
Another one showed up. Eventually, they said I had made a rolling stop two blocks back.
When I questioned that, he said I could the ticket or he would arrest me. I ed the ticket. Later, the charges were dropped. It was very eye-opening. After that, every time I see a police officer, I go in a different direction.
Last year, I had a strange experience. I was walking with some friends and a passing truck slowed down and someone hollered the n-word at me and then sped off. It was surreal. I felt a fit of immense anger and sadness. Afterward, I felt like my personhood was damaged. I was born in Liberia in the middle of a bitter civil war, and my mother wanted a better life for me and my twin brother, so she sent us to live in America, with a family that offered to adopt us. We moved to Helena, Montana, a community with only a few faces that looked like ours.
The life of refugee can be challenging.
Life was slower here, more prosperous and a bit colder. But I quickly learned to love my adopted country and community. It was filled with hope and a lot of opportunity. They adopted kids from Liberia, China, Jamaica; we have 17 kids in the family. I think of my house as the United Nations; my folks are rock stars.
I went to the University of Montana to play football, but after two years, I felt the call to serve and ed up for the Marines. I moved to a suburb of New York City and spent time exploring the Bronx and different boroughs and meeting new people. Then I came back, finished up my undergrad and started law school.
But I was ecstatic to get back. This is home. This is where my heart belongs.
Black in a white state
Print Subscriptions. Deseret News home. Filed under: InDepth Featured. Reddit Pocket Linkedin. The conversations have been edited for clarity and length. Greg Zullo of Rutland, Vermont, says he stays there in part because he enjoys hiking and kayaking in the region. Tyana Williams poses for a portrait at The Point Church, where she found a community and has been attending church for 17 years, in Kearns on Wednesday, June 10, Jacob Elder, a law student in Montana, was happy to come back to his home state visiting other parts of the country.
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