Growing Up In A Racist Town Was Complicated

Growing Up In A Racist Town Was Complicated

Prejudice was carried no differently than family traditions. It was passed on from generation to generation like last names.

See, I grew up in a small town, set on strips of farmland with homes sprinkled between fields of corn and soybeans. Apart from those, there were bits of land reserved for livestock and the factory in town, which housed most of the town’s employment opportunities. It wasn’t a bad place, but it lacked diversity. It lacked difference.

What I’ve come to realize about my home was that prejudice was carried no differently than family traditions. It was passed on from generation to generation like last names. It was given and taught and never challenged.

Racism is heavily perpetuated in small towns.

It’s careless remarks and jokes using the “N” word because “no one of color is around to hear it.” It’s not teaching children about stereotypes and removing the image the media gives them of a black man so that when they do meet one, they’re not scared.

The first time I really came into contact with a person of color was in college. I never had the socialization or the experience to know whether or not what I had seen portrayed on TV was accurate. I didn’t know whether to shy away and hide my purse or to put out my hand and introduce myself.

I was not socialized or taught acceptable behavior. I just gave it my best guess. But maybe my gut reaction to treat everyone the same is not what the rest of my small town has. In fact, I know it's not.

Racism was not talked about seriously, all while prejudicial jokes were being made on a daily basis.

I remember complaining to a teacher in high school about the comments fellow students kept making using the “N” word and the constant jokes about lynching. I didn’t find it funny. It made my stomach hurt. But it fell on deaf ears.

The teacher never addressed it. It was never a topic in history class or something we went over. Why would they in an all-white school? They weren’t forced to acknowledge anything.

The thing is, I don’t believe that everyone is racist. I don’t believe that my entire hometown or people I have grown up with and have known my entire life are all hateful, prejudicial beings.

However, I do believe that somewhere along the way, people have become careless.

It is our job as white people to not only be culturally sensitive but to be advocates for social injustice. It is our job to fix what generations before us broke

Anytime I see a Facebook post regarding Black Lives Matter, the first ones to spit back “All Lives Matter” are those from small towns. The people taking offense to it are from areas that lack diversity. It’s cultural ignorance. It’s a lack of understanding and a failure to acknowledge other human beings.

Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean white lives don’t.

Reverse racism is not a thing. It conceptually cannot exist. Racism is the systematic oppression of a group of people. It is the discrimination of people through the criminal justice system, the child welfare system, education systems and social programs.

It’s the pile of stereotypes regularly perpetuated through the media. It’s the statistics of incarcerated minorities in relation to the actual population. To ignore such a pervasive issue is not only disheartening, but it is just plain wrong.

I used to think that if I wasn’t saying the negative things, that I was OK. That being from a small town and listening to everything people say did not make me a bad person. But what did I do to put a stop to what was being said?

Sitting back and ignoring the problem is just as bad as saying the negative comments yourself. We can no longer make excuses for small-town ignorance or older relatives. It doesn’t matter if your grandfather is 80 years old.

It’s still OK to correct him.

I didn’t grow up being told what to say or believe, but I did grow up quietly.

That is no longer OK. It is both my responsibility and my duty to call people out when they’re being culturally insensitive, and that’s your job also. ESPECIALLY, if you’re from a small town.

“It is not possible to be in favor for justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people... Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.


Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.


This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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