How I Fail as an Anti-Racist…

Heidi L
5 min readAug 12, 2020
The author with a classmate at Olinda Elementary School circa 1992.

I insist. I am not racist.

I want this to be my truth.

I spent the majority of ages five to thirteen as a white minority in hispanic and black schools in and around Miami, FL. For two and a half years I was one of four white kids in a black elementary school in Liberty City, FL (yes, the same Liberty City from Moonlight and Blow) where kids who didn’t know me would yell out of their classrooms,

“Get out of our school, you Cracker!” if I walked down the hallways alone.

How could I be the racist?

At age ten, when I had a brief stint at a fancy, Harry Potter-esque private school in Connecticut, it was the first time I learned about racism and American history from a white perspective. Our progressive academy was teaching us the importance of not being racist, but I raised my little 10-year-old hand in sheer confusion.

“Um…Teacher, I don’t understand…white people aren’t racist…black people are the racists…”

Needless to say, that afternoon we had an in-depth one-on-one conversation about my bewildering comment. I shared the stories about my years in Liberty City and the hatred I had received from my black peers just because I was white.

There was no way I could be a racist. I experientially knew the pain of being hated…

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Heidi L
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Curious explorer of this earthbound presence called Life.