The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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My First White Friend
Anita Ames
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By Anita Ames

Meghan was the only white girl in my grade in junior high. She was tall, with dirty blond hair, and she seemed nice. Although we’d been in school together since kindergarten, friendship with her had never crossed my mind. She was white, so what could we possibly have in common?

But in 6th grade Meghan was in my math class. She was really good at math, so one day I asked her for help solving a problem. From then on, I found myself always asking her for help, playing basketball in gym with her, and talking with her about music. We discovered that we shared a love for Avril Lavigne, Eminem, and Mariah Carey. One day, our social studies teacher assigned a project and told us we could work in groups or alone. I decided to work with Meghan, not only because she was smart, but also because I wanted to get to her house to try the food.

I was curious about white people: How they lived, what they did, and most of all, what their food tasted like. My mom had told me that white people didn’t use any seasoning and that their food was plain, but I wanted to try it for myself.

The First Supper

“Meghan honey, supper is ready,” Meghan’s mother called from downstairs the first evening I went to her house.

“Supper?” I thought. I’d only heard that word on TV. When we got downstairs, the table was set with a plate at every seat, along with a fork, knife, and napkin. My family never had dinner together, let alone set the table. Meghan’s dad, brothers, and sister came downstairs. Her dad said grace, something else my family never did, and then her mom served us. Steak, squash, rice, and a baked potato.

It smelled really good, but when I cut my steak it was bleeding, and Meghan’s mom served milk as a drink. I thought I was going to be sick. I hated milk with no cereal, and at home the steak never bled. “Ms. Susan, my steak isn’t done,” I said.

image by John Morgan

“Oh, it’s medium rare. Do you want some steak sauce to make it better?” she said.

“Sure,” I said, and I discovered that the steak was really good—even without the sauce. But at the end of dinner, I still hadn’t finished that milk. Ms. Susan had to put chocolate in it to get me to drink it.

I never drank milk with dinner again, but after that, I remembered to always ask for medium rare burgers at restaurants. Some of Meghan’s family’s customs were different than what I was used to. But based on that dinner, I decided that white people’s food was a new and good indulgence. And they did use seasoning.

A Lasting Friendship

Back at school, my black friends and I accepted Meghan as one of us. It was fun to interact and learn from someone of a different race. We taught her how to play double dutch at recess, and she joined our dance group and learned the hip-hop and reggae dances that we performed in talent shows. She danced well and even added in some steps for us to learn, which were more of a pop style but blended in well with the rest of the dance routines.

Meghan and I had differences, but most of them had nothing to do with race. I couldn’t sleep with any light on, while Meghan had to sleep with the TV on. She couldn’t brush her teeth before breakfast, and I had to brush my teeth as soon as I woke up. When we did notice any racial differences, we treated them with curiosity, like when I asked Meghan how she took care of her hair since it was a different texture from mine.

Meghan and I are still friends to this day, although since we go to different high schools we don’t speak that often anymore. I’ve made other white friends since then and I know that Meghan doesn’t represent all white people. But she was key to opening my eyes to trying new things. She taught me that white and black people may be different when it comes to culture and customs, but as individuals we can have a lot in common.

Reprinted from the May/June 2007 issue of NYC.

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(NYC-2010-09-16a)

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