Racism: Chopped and Channeled

3540-004-1F568E2EI grew up in post-war San Diego. My family lived in plywood rooms tossed up for the influx of the wartime factory workers. We could have conversations with our neighbors without leaving our mutual homes. When I went to school I was exposed to a lot of people who didn’t look like me—tow-headed blue-eyed white speaking kindergarten English. Spanish was common and I often wished I had been dark haired, dark skinned, and dark eyed. Years later I learned that my brunette mother had considered brown eyes preferable but she kept having blond haired, blue-eyed children.

My early school class was probably a third black; I remember thinking there was something wrong since at least half of those kids had no shoes so the light skinned soles of their feet showed a contrast with their dark skin. Other than that, I was mostly concerned if a classmate was bigger than me (I was a wimp).

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What Does the ACLU Think?

ACLUFirst: Yes, I am a member, or as we used to say, a card carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Back in the 1950s, before I really had any clear idea of what was going on, many of the teachers in my school would discuss the ACLU and some sort of allegiance document they were being forced to sign in order to keep their jobs teaching in California schools. It was the time of Joe McCarthy and the shameful House Un-American Activities committee. At that time my Dad was a teacher and I expect I picked up some of the gossip and concern from him and his colleagues.

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