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I know many people who have been denied access somewhere or have felt like they weren’t wanted in a certain place or establishment because of their ethnicity. If you have, you are not the only one. I experienced this feeling my freshman year of highschool. I don’t believe this was my first time, but it is the clearest I can remember. Being on a sports team was something I knew I wanted to accomplish my first year in high school. I successfully made the basketball team, but had to quit shortly after because my family and I had just moved almost two hours away, and practices made my schedule way too hectic. I then tried golf, and was known by faculty and students for being the only black girl on the team. I will admit, I definitely was the worst player because it was my first time playing, but I was determined to learn.
The girls on my team were friendly and helpful, but going to the country club, where we had our practices, was my biggest challenge. The country club consisted of only Caucasian and Asian people, again making me the only black person there. There had been an incident where I was asked to get our golf balls, and to do this you had to show ID. I gave the man my school ID and told him I was collecting balls for our school team to practice. He looked back at my card, then me, five times, repeating my last name. “There’s no way you go to this school,” with it being a private college prep school. I had to go back and get another member of my team to confirm that I was with them. This made me feel like I didn’t belong, or that it was wrong for me to be part of this team. Another incident occurred during practice, when it was my turn to swing and the hole was about fifty yards away. Nervous, just as I lifted my club, two older white men were driving by. When they saw I was up, they parked their golf cart, and waited for me to swing, snickering. I knew the ball wouldn’t go far, and it didn’t. Only about 10 ft. They drove away quickly, laughing as loud as they could, leaving dust trails behind them.
After those few incidents and more inbetween, I decided to quit the team. I felt uncomfortable at the country clubeven after speaking to my coaches, who did nothing to stop it, or ensure that I felt safe. After doing a lot of thinking and speaking to my mother about the situation, I decided I wouldn’t allow myself to be intimidated or to stop learning something I wanted to learn due to the opinions or feelings of others who don’t wish to see me at my best.
If you have ever experienced anything like this or currently experience things like this, remember that those who are against you don’t want to see you succeed. They don’t have to be a different race or gender. They can even be you family members or friends that seem close to you. Remember to keep pushing and accomplish these things for yourself, and yourself only.