When I was in kindergarten, I had a teacher named Ms. Haliburton. She was pretty to me because she was black. I think she was the first black teacher I saw growing up. I thought we would always get along as a young girl because we were a similar brown shade. However, one morning a young boy named Ryan approached Ms. Haliburton and ruined my image. He accused me of breaking the arms of Mr. Raisin (from show was called “The California Raisin Show”-younglins, don’t worry about not knowing them). Ryan had the popular Mr. Raisin toy and kids were passing it around, but I knew that I never broke Mr. Raisin’s arm. Little did I know that all of my classmates would stand up against me. One by one each student stood up and accused me of other things I never did. I defended myself and said “No I didn’t. No I didn’t! I never did this!” I’m sure there was a look of confusion on my face, because I do not remember doing any of the false accusations my classmates made. For a second, I began to wonder if I just forgot what I did and perhaps may have done it? Then I snapped back into reality and knew this was false. I always told the truth, almost to a fault. Well, Ms. Haliburton and all the students who surrounded her with these accusations looked down at me, seated on the floor. A look of disappointment covered her face, and my heart dropped. “Eryn, go to the corner,” she ordered. I got up, still confused, and walked to the corner and cried. She did not believe me, and she never asked if I did those things. She just took their side. I remember that feeling of defeat no matter what I said. I did not understand why she took their side. As an adult I do, but it’s still not fair. I was a good kid and was not that wreckless, but somehow one lie became a field of false misconceptions. To this day, I still stand on the fact that I never hurt Mr. Raisin or stole some stupid pencil.
Although I was only five years old, I questioned why these classmates were my so called friends who believed what a class mate said that was not my friend. I wondered, if you know who I am, why would you side with someone who is not my friend nor knows anything about me? Why wouldn’t you come to me and just ask me? As a young girl, I was aware of the people around me who I thought were my friends…who apparently were not truly my friends which brought me to this question…
Are first impressions really important or are second impressions most important?
Whether it’s in a social or professional setting, there are many articles that teach you how to make a great first impression. Regardless, you’re always judged the first time someone meets you, no matter what. False impressions form in someone’s mind based on how you talk and the fact they just do not know who you are. How many times have you heard “I thought you were this way when I first met you, but as I got to know you, you were not what I thought you were”?
There have been many times that people had the wrong first impression of me because I was quiet and kept to myself. Even the way I carried myself brought a false perception about me. The main misconception was that I was siddity or stuck up. As people got to know me, they realized I was quite the opposite, but this misconception ran with me from childhood until college, and even today. I got used to it when I people approached me saying:
“You think you’re all that because you’re light skinned with pretty eyes”, “You think everybody wants you” , “Oh she thinks because she’s in these AP classes, she’s better than the rest of us”, “If I looked like you, I would be so stuck up and arrogant. Yes, I would!”
My response was always “No I’m not.” I never was this person they made me out to be. It was not my choice to be born looking like this, it caused me to typically over explain myself until I began to realize it did not matter what I said. Folks would always reply “Mmhmm” or roll their eyes at me, which would immediately shut my mouth closed with this realization.
Unless people take the time to know you, they will only believe their preconceived notions about you.
Knowing the possibility of prejudice, I became sensitive when meeting new people. The moment I heard “she’s a hoe”, “he’s a playa” or “don’t hang with them-they’re bad news”, I would gravitate to my curiosity and wonder if this is who they really are. Some of these folks became great friends of mine who were not only the opposite of these rumors, but they would always appreciate the fact I did not judge them based on whatever rumors told about them, because they were not what the majority identified them as negatively.
What hurt the most is when black women would judge me based on association and my appearance. I have stories of people who thought I was involved with others just because of association or history…but I would never rub that in their face! That is not who I was meant to be! However, I understand since people do not know me, they think the worst of me because of their own experiences with women who were petty, light skinned or the like with them. THIS IS NOT ME!
I say this all to say, evaluate what personal issues you have with people of your past.
Recently, I experienced where someone deflected on me because of their experience with other petty women. They immediately thought I was just like those women they didn’t prefer to be around. This person thought I was being malicious because we had a distant relationship, but they never gave me the chance to explain. Instead, similar to the story of Mr. Raisin, a judgement was made without an objective trial.
But…is it really worth explaining if they already have a preconceived notion about you…that has nothing to do with you , but with their own personal unsolved experiences with themselves?
We don’t have to be friends, but own up to whatever you have not healed from and move forward. That’s all I ask with no hard feelings but don’t place that on me. Deal with you. Maybe the judgments we make are not of others but the results of our unresolved hurt?