What We Are Actually Taught

by sarahilyse

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught from year to year,

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

When I was 16 I was walking with my friend, Josh. He is black. We were walking across from our old middle school, talking. Out of the corner of my eye I see a police car pull up beside us. He rolled down his window, and leaned forward. He said, “Hi sweetheart, are you alright?”. 

Well I was shocked. I mean I didn’t understand why he was concerned, however I immediately responded, “Yes..I ‘m fine.” 

He answered with a humph and glare at Josh. Then said be safe, rolled up the window and drove off. 

I felt embarrassed, for Josh. I mean to be so quickly judged. Josh didn’t seem surprised, he actually gave off a pissed vibe. Like it had happened before. I didn’t know what to think. We both kind of shrugged it off, but honestly, I feel more “afraid”  of an older white guy calling me sweetheart then hanging out with Josh, or and other people.