I was a senior in high school and my computer class drove to St. Joseph’s College in Indiana for a programming competition. We were the only school that came from Chicago. Most other schools were from central Illinois & Indiana.
Prior to the competition, my classmates and I were huddled around a cafeteria table cramming for the exam. Everything looked normal to me. High school students working together trying to help their school win. Until I looked up and happen to turn to my right.
A young male, who had the attention of his classmates, said the words, “Damn those minorities.” And proceed to point his finger as if it was a gun, triggered, and shot it in my direction.
That was the first moment of my life where I truly saw race for the first time. That male student was white. Heck, everyone in the cafeteria was white except for my school. There was 4 white, 3 Asians and one Hispanic. We were the only diverse team in the competition.
I turned to my friends to see if they saw what just happened, but they were too focused on ensuring that we would compete well. And we did. We finished in second place.
But to this day, I still don’t understand how or why the color of my skin brought so much hate to that teenage white male kid that he wanted to kill me over a computer programming competition.
I was 17 and that was when I experienced racism for the first time.