Experiencing Racism in my Neighborhood
I chose this story because it is a topic that is common in Latinx families. Racism is something many of us have faced and we are exposed to it from a young age. We are not born racist it is taught. When someone is racist towards you at a young you feel horrible and confused when you were not raised to hate.
Experiencing racism at a young age was eye-opening to me. I had never thought about how there are people in this world that do not like me because of how I speak, how my skin looks, and how my parents look. I lived in this white house that we moved into after being evicted from our apartment. It was not the nicest house; it had holes in the walls, the kind of windows you have to open by hand with a knob. When we got that house we bought our first puppy at the swapmeet. We did not have much money at the time, we didn’t have cable or the internet so having a puppy to play with after school and on the weekend was something fun my little sister became fond of. We would take our dog on walks every week and since my house was on a hill we would walk down the hill and walkthrough. At the end of the hill, there was always this old man who would always be sitting outside his house. He would always give us dirty looks but we never thought much of it. My mom was walking with us one time and she only speaks Spanish, and he overheard us talking and starting saying stuff to us. He started saying “speak English it’s America”. I had never heard anyone say that to us before. I’ve always been surrounded by people who speak Spanish I didn’t understand what was the problem. My mom said to ignore him and keep walking but then over the next couple weeks he kept saying stuff to us and he would yell when we would drive up and down the hill. One time my mom and I were driving to school and he jumped in front of our car and started yelling at us for supposedly driving too fast… my mom never drove fast down that hill once. I didn’t think about it as racism at the time, I was only twelve years old, I thought he was just an old man who was losing his mind. One time my mom was picking me up from school and I saw that she was crying on our way home. She told me that the old man had jumped in front of the car again and while she was on her way to pick me up. She said that the old man was yelling things like “go back to your country” and “stupid Mexicans need to learn to speak English”. We told my Dad he got furious, so much that the next day he did not go to work and to see if he would say anything to him if he was the one driving me to school. The old man was there waiting for us to come down the hill and he did start yelling at us. My dad got out of the car and all I could see was my tall dark-skinned dad and a short old cranky man yelling at each other. I remember my heart racing really fast and being scared that my dad was going to punch him or something. I remember the old man calling us, “illegals” and saying “go back to your country”. I also remember my dad yelling back at him saying “I am American”, “I was born here and I don’t owe any explanation” The old man demanded we show him our papers that show we are Americans. I could not believe it. I don’t know how to explain it, I had never seen an act of racism from my own eyes. One day an animal control worker
knocked on our door and said they received a complaint about a huge dog that bites. I was confused and told him all we had was a small chihuahua that never bites. He looked at our dog through the backyard door and told us what address they had received the complaint from. It was from the old man that lived down the hill. The animal control worker could not believe that he had called about our dog, I remember my little sister crying because she thought that they were going to take our dog away. Now that I’m older I think about that old man and that neighborhood. There were neighbors around when we would get yelled at and they never said anything to him, ever. We were the only Latinx family in that neighborhood and the harassment didn’t end until he passed away.