In a piece at xoJane, Danielle Moodie-Mills recalls how a painful encounter with racism as a teen taught her how the issue was not relegated to a chapter in history books. Her experience also triggered her lifelong commitment to civil rights activism.
“Get out of my seat, nigger.”
I was 14 years old when I realized that racism wasn’t just something you read about in history books. No, racism was alive and well and dressed-up as a grungy little white boy, staring me dead in my face, as I sat in what he presumed to be “his seat,” before the bell rang on my second day of 9th grade.
I can remember the fire that crept slowly through my body as his hate-filled words left his mouth and lingered in the air, enveloping me like a low hanging cloud. I can still hear the sounds of chairs screeching as his friends began to awkwardly recoil away from him. I can still feel their eyes peering at me in embarrassment wondering, “What is she going to do?”
I can still hear the deafening silence that choked their words, as they were unwilling or unable to muster the courage to defend me.
For a moment, I sat there drumming my fingers slowly on the desk, the way drum majors do on the battlefield as they march toward the enemy. Then I turned my head and looked up at this gangly little kid and said, “As far as I know there have been no seat assignments made so, I am NOT moving. Go and find yourself another [f–king] seat.”
Now, I was no Rosa Parks, but that was my defining moment. I had two choices, either stand up for myself or allow entitled jerks like that boy to think they could “put me in my place.” I chose the former.
Read Danielle Moodie-Mills’ entire piece at xoJane.
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