My Fellow Journeyers,
When you are eleven years old and in the fifth grade you are not thinking of the possible complications of interracial dating. But my preference for blue eyes and dark hair was created when I was 11. I know it was a purely innocent choice, similarly made as if one day I chose pink. I don’t think my choice of RT Smith was influenced by the media in sort of a “whitewashing” which might have made me wish to be a blonde or have blue eyes- because I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of television as a child. So, it wasn’t that.
I was attending a private Catholic Prep-school in Chevy Chase Maryland. It was the 1960’s after the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was signed into law. This affected my choice because there were only white boys attending my elementary school. I will admit, that maybe it was because RT Smith’s skin was tanned a deeper brown than mine skin that I particularly found him attractive.
I didn’t recognize at that innocent age of 11 that the combination of things that I liked about RT Smith were his trappings of wealth and extreme privilege. At 11 years old, he wore fine cotton shirts and silk ties that picked up the navy of his cashmere sweaters when fall and winter came. His loafers with tassels were always highly polished and I sometimes wondered if he had more than one pair that he switched out so that they always looked new.
I was goofy when I was 11, although I already knew too much about the real world. None of us, however, were yet aware of the issues of liking someone else with skin of a different color could create. We were still innocent that way. I was a reddish brown girl with a big smile and a chipped front tooth that my parents could not afford to repair. I along with everyone else could see that RT Smith was interested in me. He looked at me as if I were an exotic bird which he had never seen an now he saw me everyday in our fifth grade class.
I can still remember my girlfriends’ names from when I was in the fifth grade. I even remember their last names. I have long since changed my last name at least three times to add on the names of husbands to my name of Clark. Nevertheless they were faithful friends in the way that 11 year old girls can be before competition and cattiness was even thought about – that was years away. They set up an after school date at Lola’s house where RT and a few of his friends were asked to join our group of girls. I was too loud, too obvious, and probably too aggressive- all things that I am often times accused of as an adult woman. He turned his head away from me and on to his math homework.