Discovering Racial Identity

I walked into my regular classroom to meet all my friends, and start a regular day at school. I really enjoyed school and grade four was starting to be my favourite year. I walked over to my desk and noticed a few friends. We began to talk as we put our inside shoes on. There were always stories about what happened at recess of after school; the typical nine year old topics. When the bell rang everyone walked to their desks and sat down. Our morning routine continued as usual with O’ Canada and the announcements, but that day our teacher wasn’t with us yet. Once we were seated in our desks Mrs. O walked in with a young girl. She introduced her by the name of Samantha, and she was the new grade four student.

I’m not going to lie, we were not fond of new students. We had such a small close class, and we were obviously a sassy bunch because we preferred to keep it that way. Nevertheless, there was a new girl in our class and we had to accept it. Samantha was very tall for a grade four girl, taller than the tallest person in our class. And, there was something else different about her, her skin was not the same colour as everyone else in the class. She was Aboriginal, but we did not really know that at the time. It never registered in my mind that I am white, just that she was a colour other than white. After she was introduced, Mrs. O placed her in a desk next to mine, and I was given the task of showing her around the school for the day. I walked with her to the gym, and took her with me outside for recess. She seemed really nice. I remember noticing that she had a slight accent in her voice, but I don’t recall ever mentioning it.

The school year continued, and Samantha became a regular member of our class. We learnt more about her every day, and she had a very special talent that I admired. One day during show and tell she sang two songs by Loretta Lynn. Looking back, that is not the type of music anyone would have expected her to sing, but it was still beautiful. Samantha had her ups and downs with others in the class, but none of them were regarding her race. At that young of an age attitudes are bound to clash, and I can remember hers clashing with a few peoples, including the boys!

Finally the school year came to an end, and we said good-bye to our teachers and friends for the summer. When the following school year came we learnt that Samantha’s family moved back to the town they came from. It was not a surprise to us, because Sam frequently talked about how much she missed home. No one kept in contact with her, and that would have been difficult without social media. But, our class remembered her. Mainly as the girl who could sing and would fight with the boys.


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