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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Racism still prevalent in Ludlow

Racist graffiti found at Whitney Park reminder of the hate that still exists in this community

May 14th, 2024 was the day I truly felt the impact of racism and it completely broke me. 

Growing up, not really knowing my Haitian culture due to living with my white family, I believed–even though I was black–my heritage was not impacted by slavery. 

I was an uneducated little black girl who did not want to think of my ancestors being in such a horrible and tragic position in history. 

It really wasn’t until 8th grade I realized Haiti, my grandparent’s birthplace, was a major role in the triangular trade system being the main producer of sugar, which was very valuable in Europe at the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I always felt the weight of racism on my shoulders as much as a regular black child in a predominantly white environment, I just didn’t understand the extent. 

Childhood memories 

I remember as a child when the teacher would start our “slave studies” and always felt like the room was pushing me into a corner. I would get this sense of irrational rage and I still do. 

I am  mixed race; therefore, I  didn’t experience the worst of the microaggression that my other best friends did but there has been moments I can remember that made me feel icky due to my skin color in Ludlow: 

Number 1: “You’re Adopted?”

Whitney summer camp. I was sitting at a table under a tree trying to take coverage from the raging sun when this girl I didn’t really know came up to me. She had friends on each side of her like her own little poise/bodyguards just in case I became ‘aggressive’. She looked me up and down, then did a quick glance around us. Now there were people around, at least seven kids and two counselors. So she wanted a reaction and thought it was completely ok to question someone’s family in a crowd. The idiot. 

She took a breath like it was hard for her to produce the words about to come out of her mouth and said, “Are you adopted?” 

 “I saw you walking into the gas station with a…”, paused and looked around like she was about to say a dirty secret, “white woman.”

I froze. If there was anything I was expecting, it was not those words. It took me a second to fully comprehend the words she said, but when it clicked, I was pissed. Absolutely enraged. Obviously, I was too scared to do anything but I wanted to. Before I could even convince myself to take action my counselor told her to back off. 

Never once in my life had I questioned my mom and I’s relationship, but I always did after that. 

I was always told I looked like my dad, but never my mother. I couldn’t see myself in her, I couldn’t see her in me. My eyes were brown where hers were a cool blue-tinted gray. I had big plump lips where hers were small and thin. Big black eyes where hers were thin and had to be drawn in. Then the obvious, my skin dark and hers fair.  

What can a simple question like that do to a little black girl?

Answer: Make her question her entire identity. 

Number 2: Afro

Coincidentally this was at Whitney Park too. Well, this time it was. For the first time ever I wore my afro out. I never wore my hair out because I didn’t like it. It wasn’t like the little white girls’ hair, the song in the wind or looked fun enough for other girls to play with -trust me, ask any black girl, and they will tell you they always wanted that when they were younger.  

I was on the swing set fulfilling my hair in the wind’s little girl’s dreams when two older boys stopped and stared at me. They made a motion with his hands above his head, signaling the massive hair. He looked weirded out and said something along the lines of What is wrong with her hair? 

Ever since that day, I have never worn my afro out and maybe once or twice my curl down. 

It made me feel ugly and made me hate my hair, something I still struggle with today. 

There so many more I could go through but I want to explain the flaws of education when it comes to black history through one memory: 

It was my 8th-grade year. I was at home due to COVID but I believe it was at the time my school had the hybrid option. It was February and you know what that means! The only time white schools actually teach a little bit of black history! Like this month is the only time when black authors or scientists can be celebrated. It’s the time when they bring out the same black people to teach about every year: Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and maybe Fredrick Douglas if you’re old enough. Truly inspirational–I hope you can sense my sarcasm, but let me get back to the topic. Our assignment was to write a narrative essay about…get this…being a runaway slave!!!  

Woo. What a fun thing to write about. Pretend to understand actual peoples struggles through such a horrible moment in time for a fun little assignment. 

Obviously I was not ok with this, but I didn’t know if I was being “sensitive” So I called my best friend, then my father. I explained to him the situation and the assignment and he agreed with me that it was insensitive. So I wrote an email to my teacher telling her exactly that and how I saw this as a flaw as an assignment. I then used this to tie into my dislike for the way they taught black history. I requested to do an alternate assignment and/or I would take the zero because I refused to do it. 

That was absolutely ridiculous. She then replied back saying it was just a way to have us write a narrative and it was part of the curriculum and not what she would do so personally. But it really showed me how the curriculum treated and saw black history: as a story that can and only be told during February-black history month and not anything good though. No, never.  If it wasn’t black history month then the only black history we were taught was slavery. Now the past and present black women and men who were making a difference in the world like every other race. Nope. Never. 

On May 24th, 2024, at 17 years old as a black junior in high school, in a gym class of no other black people, I found a hate crime. Actually I didn’t find it, it was after a group of students surrounded a slide, whispering and told me I should probably stay away. I pushed through the crowd and saw it. The disgusting words were written in child-like handwriting with black permanent marker, trying to burn the slide with its words. I was disgusted. Heartbroken. Sad. Enraged. Disappointed. I wanted to cry but I wanted to punch something too. 

It was in chicken-scratch handwriting so I guessed it was by someone younger but that made it worse. That a child would write those words. Parents wrongly taught their children hate and said child decided to share their hate with little kids on a playground. 

Everyone tried to make me feel bad for the child. Saying it wasn’t essentially their fault, it was their parents. I couldn’t have cared less. 

All I could think about was the hypothetical situation.

Maybe a younger kid was mad at a black kid and wrote this to get back at them. I couldn’t stop imagining what other horrible things that were done or said to the little black girl or boy. Nothing that should have amounted to this hate. 

I was told they did it for attention and we shouldn’t give it to them. 

I was furious. I still am. 

If you were to ask any black student who isn’t considered the “token” black friend they would tell you that Ludlow is racist and it is a sad reality that I’ve had to live with since I was little. 

Hopefully, in the future it changes. 

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About the Contributor
Ariana Adrien, Staff Writer
Ariana Adrien is in the Class of 2025. This is her 2nd year in the Ludlow Cub. She enjoys creating art, reading romantic novels, and helping others. She hopes to become either a lawyer or a book publisher in the future. She is a part of multiple clubs including Art Club and Ludlow CARES. Ariana is excited to start her second year in Ludlow Cub and hopes to create wonderful, interesting stories.  

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  • G

    Gina MawyerJun 3, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you for writing this piece. Ludlow needs to do better. Be better. We are a community. We should be looking out for each other.

  • K

    Kelly KapinosJun 3, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    What an incredibly talented writer you are! My heart sank as I read your words. I so wish the world was different. We need to work harder to make sure that this doesn’t continue to happen.