Girls, Gloves, and Grown Ups: Confronting Racism, by nannymm

Growing up in NYC, I was used to being around people of all colors, races, and nationalities. It never occurred to me that a thing such as racism existed, until my second grade class was planning a trip to the Hayden Planetarium. There we were, 40 some odd little kids, nearly jumping out of our seats in our eagerness to get ready for our big trip. The teacher, Mrs. Millette, had asked us to pick partners to buddy with for the trip. As I understood it, partners were to line up together, sit together on the bus, and hold hands as we walked around and looked at all the exhibits. So naturally, we all wanted to be paired with a friend. I’m not sure who chose who, but Tina and I soon found ourselves excitedly planning all the fun things we were going to do for the trip. I volunteered to bring cookies for our snack and Tina was sure her sister would lend us matching hair bows so we’d look alike. All day we plotted and planned, daydreamed and talked incessantly about the big day. I had no way of knowing that that trip was about to cause chaos in my life and cause me to see the world in a new and far less trusting way. I didn’t know that my parents, especially my mother, were racists. And I hadn’t ever noticed that Tina was black.

When I went home that day after school, I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I remember waving the permission slip and jumping up and down as I asked my mother to sign it. Well. she didn’t. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but once she realized who my partner was she wouldn’t sign it. She said I had to go to school and ask the teacher to give me a new partner. I remember crying that Tina was my friend and asking why she couln’t be my partner. I know I didn’t get an answer that satisfied me because I was still crying when my father got home. I can still see his face as he tried to explain that Tina was black and my mother didn’t want me to hold hands with her. I remember thinking that maybe something was wrong with Tina. But that didn’t make sense. Was she going to give me something that could make me sick? I didn’t think so; we sat next to each other all the time and even shared lunches. Slowly, I began to understand that the only problem was her skin color. That’s when I had my first big fight with my mother. And in the end, my father sided with me and got my mother to agree to let me be partners with Tina. But there was one condition. I had to promise to wear my white cotton gloves all day. So I promised, knowing I would never keep that promise. Suddenly, I knew that it would be wrong to wear the gloves and maybe I even recognized that it would hurt and insult Tina.

I never saw my parents quite the same way after that. I knew that they were kind loving people; I never doubted that for a moment. But I also knew they were wrong, that they had preconceived ideas that were without merit. I knew that somehow, I had to stick up for what I believed. And over the years, I did. It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t pleasant or even comfortable. But it was right.

I’ve told this story to my own children and now to my grandson and his friends. To them, it is weird. They don’t see skin color. Thank God.



Filed under Uncategorized

111 responses to “Girls, Gloves, and Grown Ups: Confronting Racism, by nannymm

  1. chefsheila

    WOW! Nanny, Thanks for telling that. I was in your shoes and wanted to cry with you. Revelations like that come hard. But even though your parents aren’t shown in the best light, the rainbow here is that dispite their prejudices, they raised you right!

  2. horsedooty

    nice writing Nanna. I really liked your sensibility even at that young age. I would like to have been that strong at that age but I fear I did not come up to your standard. Good work.

  3. dnd

    What a great story. It reinforces that racism is learned. Fortunately you decided to skip that class 😉

  4. chefsheila

    Nannymm. Spunky Girl and Spunky grandma! Watch out internet bullies! 🙂

  5. nannymm

    As I said, Sheila, they were good people. But they had some very wrong headed ideas.
    My mother was the kind of woman who bought clothes for the neighbors kids for years because the father didn’t have a good enough job due to his health. She was the one who would never lend anyone a dime; but she’d give you her last dollar if you needed it. And you didn’t even have to ask.
    My dad was the guy who paid off the next door neighbor’s mortgage when the guy’s wife divorced him. He’d been our neighbor for 30yrs and Dad didn’t want him to be forced to sell. He was also the guy who paid for a friend’s son to go to college and grad school.
    But…they were raised in a very different time and place. Mom was raised in Florida and Dad was born in Italy. To them, blacks and hispanics were inferior. They truly believed that blacks were not as intelligent or our equals in any way. I tried to get them to see that they were wrong; believe me. But I wasn’t really successful.
    I’m glad times have changed but I suspect there are still many good decent people like my parents. It’s going to take time, I fear.

  6. Ah, those horrible moments when we all find out our parents are human. Thanks for sharing

  7. dnd

    Is this cause for divorce?

    “ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.”

  8. Yeah I saw that on the news the other sadly we can’t stop stupid people from breeding!

  9. nannymm

    In most states, the mother must sign the forms for the birth certificate, not the father. Hopefully, this jerk is lying.

  10. dnd

    More intolerance 10 years after Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered:

    “COLORADO SPRINGS — Citing his “personal beliefs, views and convictions,” the president of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student body refused to sign a request to fund today’s annual campus observance of National Coming Out Day”

  11. dnd

    If you have the option, don’t use an electronic voting machine. Paper is safer.

    “Colorado was among 10 states identified as the least prepared for e-voting problems. The others are Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

    The national report said six states were the most prepared to handle e-voting problems. They are Alaska, California, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oregon.”

  12. Thank you for your story, nannymm. A different age and a different mind set. While big changes have occurred in our generation from those of our parents, much has yet to be done. This upcoming election will tell volumes about our society and whether or not we have changed significantly or much work has still to be done in changing the hearts and minds of our own citizens. Again, thanks for your insights on both race and courage.

  13. horsedooty

    last time I voted (this years primaries) I was given a paper ballot to darken in the selections I wanted. I then put it in a machine that registered my vote.

  14. dnd

    Turns out that “Joe the Plumber” isn’t a plumber after all:

    This was all a hoax and the media fell for it. Shame.

  15. dnd

    “last time I voted (this years primaries) I was given a paper ballot to darken in the selections I wanted. I then put it in a machine that registered my vote.”

    Doots, me too. The thing about having a paper trail is that a small sample of the paper ballots can be tabulated and compared to computed results. If they’re off statistically, there’s trouble. With most electronic only machines, you don’t have that option.

  16. nannymm

    My husband always asks for a paper ballot. I don’t worry here in NY. We haven’t had any problems that I’m aware of.

  17. chefsheila

    Guys, I got this off TPM of course, Look at the PS!

    Joe the Ringer?

    By Todd Gitlin – October 16, 2008, 11:21AM

    Joe the Plumber is, it seems, a registered Republican. (Hat tip to Ben Smith of Politico, who got the item from the Toledo Blade.) Moreover, according to the logical Jed L at Daily Kos, he wasn’t undecided either:

    Speaking with Katie Couric, “Joe” said that he “wasn’t swayed” by the debate last night, yet pretty much knew who he was going to vote for. So if (a) he wasn’t swayed by the debate and (b) knows who he is going to vote for, then (c) he had already made up his mind before the debate.
    Anyway, whether Joe is on the level or not, my sister-in-law, Karen Cook Velasti, makes this interesting point :

    Tell Joe the plumber that a business without customers will fail no matter how little or how much he pays in taxes. If people are out of jobs, they won’t be able to pay him for repairing his kitchen sink. However, if Joe the middle-class-man or Josephine the middle-class-woman get some of their tax money back or don’t have to worry about medical bills, they might be able to hire him for that bathroom renovation they have been putting off.

    P. S. Are you sitting down?

    Joe the Plumber is now reported to be related to the son-in-law of the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the bank you may have heard of, Lincoln Savings and Loan, owned by a fellow named Charles Keating.

    But if so it’s OK, I guess, because he’s not related to Bill Ayers.

  18. nannymm

    I’ll bet KO and Rachel are frantically working on this. Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if there were a link to Keating?

  19. chefsheila


    Been thinking the same thing. 🙂

  20. nannymm

    Great minds….LOL

  21. dnd

    Shelia and nannymm,
    I hope so! This guy is a fraud and McCain is using him on the stump today.

    McCain is trying to deceive the electorate. Straight talk my ass.

  22. nannymm

    Yes, dnd. And the stupid TV media is yukking it up all day. Not one word on TV about him not being a licensed plumber or possibly being connected to Keating. They just want to stick with the “Joe the Plumber” everyman storyline.

  23. horsedooty

    msnbc is starting to mention the fact that he is only looking to buy a plumbing outfit and that he is not a licensed or union plumber.

  24. nannymm

    it’s about time!

  25. dnd

    Doots, your post prompted me to turn on the tube to MSNBC. They reported that Joe the plumber owes back taxes and has a lien against him.

    First Palin. Now Joe . What else will the McCain campaign surprise us with?

  26. nannymm

    I’m not sure i want to find out.

  27. chefsheila

    The gifts just keep on giving…..

    Inland GOP mailing depicts Obama’s face on food stamp

    The Press-Enterprise

    The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

    The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

  28. dnd

    Well, racism is alive and well. Man are they gonna be pissed when Obama wins.

    And for the record, I love watermelon, ribs and fried chicken. Who doesn’t?

  29. nannymm

    You are so right, dnd. I just hope we don’t see anything really ugly when Obama wins. Some of these people are not too stable, I fear.
    As for ribs, fried chicken, and watermelon..sounds like a great meal if you throw in some corn on the cob and cole slaw.

  30. chefsheila

    Please pass the Biscuits! 🙂

  31. nannymm

    ooh, yeah! I forgot those! Damn this diabetes! It’s been so long since I’ve been able to enjoy carbs, I tend to forget about them.

  32. chefsheila

    All this slander about Ayers when time and again, Obama has explaned and the press have probed to no avail!!! I’m sick of this crazy attack!

  33. chefsheila


    Diabetes suck! But if you’ve managed to stay away from these tastebud delights, I applaud you. 🙂

    I’m on the brink and I’m not trying to move back into safe territory.

  34. Obama leads McCain in Virginia
    (NEWPORT NEWS, VA) – With just under three weeks to go before Election Day, Senator Barack Obama leads Senator John McCain in Virginia by 6.0% among likely voters, 49.2% to 43.2%. Obama’s lead appears to be driven by voter concerns about the economy. Asked to name the top issue that they would like candidates to address between now and Election Day, just over six in ten likely voters say the economy. No other issue breaks double digits. These findings are from the Christopher Newport University Virginia Poll conducted October 11-14 of 500 likely voters.

  35. Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

  36. dnd

    You guys are making me hungry!

    It’s weird that they try to associate Obama with typically southern fare. White people in the south eat watermelon, ribs and fried chicken. Years ago a white friend from the south introduced me to collards, mustard greens and grits. I love them all. But then I’m not too picky 😉

    I like mustard greens so much I grow them in my garden. The frozen ones I can get in the grocery store are awful.

  37. horsedooty


    yeah this clown Joe the Plumber is as dumb a deal as anything foisted on the public by the Repugs in a very long time. plumbing license
    2.owes back taxes
    3.shady relationships with the Keating 5
    4and tax people looked at Joe’s company and say Joe the Plumber would actually benefit from Obama’s tax plan.

    don’t get no better than that.

  38. horsedooty

    I eat grits maybe once a week at breakfast.

  39. chefsheila

    I’m a mustard greens addict myself.

  40. horsedooty

    hey Dnd,

    brad is on Regis and Kelly tomorrow morning with Billy Bob Thornton. They will be playing some song. I bet it is Poor House. All y’all join the Dog and I as we are gonna coffee up and then blog about it.

  41. dnd

    Grits and fried eggs are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Biscuits and gravy too.

  42. chefsheila

    If there’s Grits in Heaven, my Daddy is happy! 🙂

  43. dnd

    Ok Doots, thanks, I need to scan Comcast to see when Regis and Kelly are on. I won’t miss it!

  44. dnd

    To paraphrase Mark Twain: “If there are not grits in Heaven, I shall not go.”

  45. dnd

    To paraphrase Mark Twain: “If there are not grits in Heaven, I shall not go.”

  46. chefsheila

    lol I’m sure Mark and Dad are having a bowl every morning together. Perfect!

  47. horsedooty


    Regis and Kelly are on one of the Fox channels. Here it is the one that has the NFC of the NFL if that helps.

  48. chefsheila

    Regis and Kelly are on ABC here.

  49. dnd

    If you don’t like grits, you’ve never had them prepared correctly. Think polenta.

  50. yeah I’ve heard the same excuse about lima beans too.

  51. horsedooty

    LIma Beans are divine.

  52. horsedooty

    I am not big on spinach though.

  53. Lima beans are god’s punishment for original sin!

  54. horsedooty

    LOL what are your feelings toward butter beans and navy beans?

  55. I love all beans but Lima.

  56. nannymm

    I have never met a bean I didn’t love. As for spinach, I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get sick of it.

  57. Grits. When I joined the Navy a half century ago, I went to breakfast on the first day in boot camp. On the chow line, it looked as if they were serving cream of wheat hot cereal. So, I put some on my tray. OMG, I thought I’d died, the grits were so awful and my pallet ready for cream of wheat that I almost lost my breakfast right there and then. To this day, I pass on grits whenever they’re being served!

  58. Navy bean soup at the US Senate, a tradition since 1789, is the best. I like almost all beans so long as they’re whole beans and not refried or mashed with lard or anything else. Frijoles de la hoya con cebolla y pequeino porcion de sal marina. Mi favorito!

  59. horsedooty

    wife and I are going to a Jamaican restaurant tonight. What am I in for food wise?

  60. Kathy

    this brought tears to my eyes

  61. Chef Sheila

    Here Doots.. Some recipes to give you an idea.

    Jamaican Jerk seasoning is what they are usually famous for though……very spicey and very nice.

  62. Chef Sheila

    Wow! Thats a strong one!

  63. imalimabeana

    I feeling a bit of bean bigotry here……isn’t it erase hate week?

  64. chefsheila

    Come on in…..We don’t like Bean Bigotry either!

  65. chefsheila

    Poor LimaBean, They Knew Not What They Did! 🙂

  66. nanny,
    Loved your story…….reminds me how wonderful and wise children are before they are polluted by society and the various influences that diminish their natural wisdom.

  67. Lima beans found their way into my napkin many meals, cover to cough, and into the napkin they went.

    Think mom knew?? I’ll have to ask her. lol

  68. chefsheila

    Joe the Plumber sighting explanation on Countdown!

  69. I sincerely hope that Obama wins, and we never have to hear another word uttered by Palin again – ever!

    I’d take that as a gift….any occasion….whatever the next holiday is, or as a hostess gift , anything….

  70. nannymm

    You and me both, UB. Her voice is worse than chalk on a blackboard.

  71. dog's eye view

    watching CNN; Bill Maher on Larry King with split screen of Al Smith dinner — Cardinal Egan with McCain on his right and Obama on his left, both in white tie. (Obama looks like an earnest schoolkid in his; it emphasizes his ears); Hillary Clinton also there.

    McCain just speaking now.

  72. dog's eye view

    you gotta check out CNN; looks like the Grim Reaper is seated behind McCain’s shoulder. and snacking on a dinner roll.

    McCain opened with a Joe the Plumber joke.

  73. dog's eye view

    McCain just made some classy remarks on Obama being impressive and a good opponent seen at his best, etc. and closed with “I cannot wish him luck but I wish him well.”

  74. Obama is killing at the Al Smith Dinner

  75. Hillary looks good. McCain did actually make some nice comments. – amazing

  76. chefsheila


  77. Obama – he’s so funny – he’s doing great!

  78. got to love Barack ! we are so ready for his leadership!

  79. chefsheila

    That was great!

  80. chefsheila

    So so Ready for President Obama

  81. chefsheila

    Oh Gosh, “That One and George Bush”

  82. Hey Sheila Reich is on The Daily Show tonight

  83. dog's eye view

    Good morning all.

    Talking point word for C-Span GOP callers today: socialism.

    Just like in those scary cities, per one caller.

  84. dog's eye view

    Not a surprise, but the Washington Post endorsed Obama for president today.

    With early voting, I wonder how many other big papers will endorse soon. No waiting until November any more, with mail-in ballots and absentee voting in person.

    They already have lines for early voting in North Carolina.

  85. nannymm

    Good morning!

  86. nannymm

    I think you’re right, dog. There’s no reason to wait. I’d like to see a flood of endorsements this weekend.

  87. Hi everyone….happy Friday!

    Saw this while signing in and thought it made an important point…Our country, the countries we bomb and our soldiers will need much repair.

  88. chefsheila

    Good Morning everyone. I have a migraine. Not much posting today

  89. wrong link hold on I’ll get the correct one.

  90. here it is: this goes with the post above

  91. sorry about the migraine, dark room and sleep……no need to reply….

  92. nannymm

    Ditto what burrito said, Sheila. Feel better.

  93. horsedooty

    I had catfish and while it was good it was dry and just ok lots of rice and a side of fresh veggies that was really just squash.

  94. horsedooty

    this is interesting at least to me. I just copied the post date and time using copy link location. Then in the yellow posting box I used paste. One click and the reader can see the post I am referring to. Works the same on Trail Mix.

  95. chefsheila

    I’m glad you found it Doots. So your posting box is yellow? Mine is beige. ;0)

  96. nannymm

    Mine is yellow.

  97. Barack Obama has expanded his lead over John McCain in Missouri to six percentage points.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds Obama with 52% of the vote while McCain is supported by 46%. Earlier this week, Obama was on top 50% to 47%

  98. The Times has moved VA from tossup to Obama and now puts his electoral college count at 277!

  99. nannymm

    Morning Brian.
    That is great news about Virginia. I already moved it to Obama.

  100. oh me too, but the old gray lady doesn’t till it’s in the bag!

  101. Bear

    Hey Nanny,

    Great story…not only does it illustrate that racism is an inherited trait from our parents, but it also shows that there is a purity and an inherent goodness to kids that parents need to recapture every now and then.

  102. nannymm

    Do you think they’ll move Florida or Colorado soon?

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