What we were taught

Without interruption on the surface, our biases work
like invisible engines driving what we do. When you
visited for the first time, alighting from the plane,
you smiled then whispered nervously: I hear there are
many blacks here?
Having grown up where we did, far east
in a country that used to be a colony of the one where I
now make my home, I understood this wasn’t something
seeded from cruelty, but rather from an idea we were taught
before we even learned to think: how beauty was everything
white and blond, everything unlike our brown selves
parroting See Jane run! and Look, Dick, look!— their picket
fence and buttoned cardigans alien and fascinating as the two
yellow braids Jennifer Moser wore in grade school. I touched
them out of curiosity: for which I was promptly disciplined.

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