First Impressions

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I can remember the first time that I’ve ever met a white person before. My first time was in sixth grade when I went to Academy school in Glastonbury. Sure I’d seen them in movies, at the stores, and maybe I had a white teacher, but the first time I’d ever interacted with a white person was that year. I was an exceptional student then. Too smart for my grade they said. My English teacher in 5th grade, Mrs. Wimberly, told me I needed to get out of the Hartford Public School system. She suggested to my mother that I try out a program called Project Concern. This was a program that brought inner city youth out into suburban schools so as to give equal opportunities for education. My mother applied to this and was informed before the end of my fifth grade school year that I was accepted and would be going to school in Glastonbury. Glastonbury!? Where the heck was that? I didn’t even know such a place existed in my small little world. The farthest I’d ever been was East Hartford or maybe the Westfarms mall, and I just saw those as extensions of Hartford. I was a little worried as to what this experience was going to be like. I told everyone at Annie Fisher, my elementary school in Hartford, the news at the lunch table one day. While unwrapping my lunch from those plastic cases, and opening my carton of low-fat milk I broke the news. Some of the girls at the table began to say, “Oh we’re gonna miss you Chancellor!” Then the guys chimed in. My one friend, Barry, informed me that I was going to a mostly white school only he put it in other terms, “Ha ha, you’re going to be going to school with a bunch of crackers!” I’d never heard the term before, but another kid chimed in through mouthfuls of his dry salami sandwich, “You’re going to a white school!?” I was a bit confused. What was this? I was never told I’d be going to school with white people. I’d never in talked to a white person before. They seem like some abstract, far off idea that I could not yet comprehend. I began to get nervous sitting at that lunch table, with my feet sticking to the dried juice on the floor. I asked them, “What are they like?

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