Skin Deep

Desegregation didn’t hit South Georgia until I was ten years old. My parents were among a group of scared white people who got up enough money to start a private school. At the last moment, they backed out of the deal because they rightly assumed that blacks and whites ought to learn how to live in peace.  We kids did learn to live in peace, more or less, but we never mixed, we never ate lunch together. Seven years later, at Early County High School, the first white girl to get pregnant by a black guy was disowned by her parents. They destroyed all the photos of her and told people she died in a car wreck. The true test of two creatures are of the same species is if they can breed and produce viable offspring. You may destroy the photos of a daughter, but the grandchild still carries the genetic makeup of everyone involved, and everyone is. When I was growing up there was no one that I knew who could lay claim to a mixed heritage, and it wasn’t until I was in High School that it finally broke into the public’s eye. We had, of course, heard rumors of such things, but to have such an event explode into being right there in front of us. Mercy! It was if the very fabric of reality had been torn asunder!



The racism that existed in South Georgia at the time was one of law. It was illegal for blacks to eat, drink, pray, or urinate in the same places that whites did these things. It didn’t occur to anyone at the time that eating, drinking, praying and urinating meant we all had something in common. When the law changed it did start most little kids into thinking that people were people, but the older folks are the ones who had the most problems with it. It’s very hard to be anything other than what your parents are, and because my parents were brave enough to send their kids to a segregated school, I have the privilege of addressing a very touchy subject from the perspective of a person raised in a segregated society, yet not part of the covert racism that exists even today.


First off, let me say that no one I have ever met is totally without some sort of cultural prejudice. I use the word “cultural” instead of “racial” because I believe that most differences are in fact not hereditary, but learned behavior. The genetic differences between black and white are laughably small, yet the cultural gulf that lies between two people of the same genes is an incredible one at times.  It’s taken some time but slowly those who are neither black nor white, yet both, are beginning to show up in a few places, here and there.  The girl I knew in High School was the subject of much debate after she had left. We wondered what sort of creature her child might be one day, and we feared the monstrosity of it all. Oh the humanity!


Jessica Alba comes to mind, as does Tiger Woods, Vanessa Williams, and Keanu Reeves. What? You thought he was white because he’s pale? Reeves and Woods share almost identical heritage yet different skin hue. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot…that Obama guy, the politician. He’s not exactly totally black, by the way.


The mixed race people were by and large always assumed to be black because they were not white. We white people got robbed in that one but it was out own fault. Now there are mixed race people in all walks of life, one has a decent shot at the White House ( irony alert!) and all of a sudden, those people who decades ago were tearing up photos and shipping the kids off to some second rate school are finding their world a whole lot smaller. We white people are guilty of racist against our own people because they are darker than us, and then we were guilty of racism against our children’s children because they were not as white.


The Mixed Race people will one day rise up and demand that there not be any sort of category on any form that defines race with such small words as “white”, “black” or “mixed” or that one I really despise “other”.  One day they will rise up and there will be so damn many of those people they will outnumber the dinosaurs who saw the world only in black and white. Their children will be mixed mixed. Their grandchildren will be three mixed, or four mixed, or…


In front of our very eyes, the concept of race is dying.  Actors, athletes, politicians, cops, firemen, soldiers, men, women, boys, girls, rich people, poor people, mean people, nice people, and everyone else, too, is now part of a larger concept. Racism, once the product of law, is now being bred out of existence. Each generation will find the area between black, white, and brown, to be wider and wider. The idea of there being some sort of Master Race will finally come to fruition when we all sit down and realize there was always just one race to begin with.




Take Care,



JTP   JTP wrote
on 7/21/2009 11:49:29 AM
Have you watched the cop shows and prison reality shows on Television? I try to avoid them but my sister has cajoled me into watching a few. It really bugs me when a cop describes a suspect as "A Male Black". Would I be described as a "Male White"? No, it would be "White Male". Even though I have genes from all over, including "Black". Semantics. It also bugs me that prisoners are allowed to form gangs and be segregated along so-called racial lines. It's as if the guards got bored and decided to turn one group against another just to liven things up. As my neighbor, the ex-con with the swastika tattoos said, "I wasn't really a racist until I went to prison". -Nuff Said

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 6/6/2008 3:23:11 PM
WP, I'm glad you liked it. It's going to be odd when history looks back at these times and tries to undertsand what all the fuss was about. We won't live to see it, but at least now I beleive someone else will.

Warriorprincess55   Warriorprincess55 wrote
on 6/6/2008 1:20:39 PM
Mike, for me, the entire story was on point! The bottom line is that after is all said and done, we are all here - and we are all human! I enjoyed reading this and even though we both know that each person who reads it is going to take away his or her own interpertation of what you've written, and being human, it's their choice, and they have the right to do so. Hey, what can you say?! It is what it is. Personally, I think what you've written here is food for thought and I so enjoyed reading it.

penname   penname wrote
on 6/4/2008 6:35:16 PM
last brings me full circle to my profile quote (most people are other people...) so many folks only know what they mimmick or think they should know or feel and not how they actually feel or think.

penname   penname wrote
on 6/4/2008 6:32:25 PM
race schmace of course, i wouldnt go far enough to say lets try this biological genetic experiment and mix it all up so it's nothing anymore. that kinda stuff would happen or evolve naturally in a million years...or less. but i have always been on the outskirts of race because i never have seen it as having any point to anything. i support culture and cultural history and celebration and pride...but really someones pigment or where they were born really doesnt mean anything with regard to how i interact, or treat or want to be treated. Treat me as a person and we'll be fine. When folks start labeling and playing those race card mind tricks and games, that's when i get disgusted and very prejudiced... prejudiced against ignoramuses. of all kinds. another silly ants have this problem, pill bugs, centipedes, butterflies and any other insect.

Mike Firesmith
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writing Mike Firesmith
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The mixing colors to change the world