I was born in 1992. I have lived all over the U.S. but was raised mostly in the south in the Georgia/Florida area. I identify myself as African-American.
My first encounter with race came when I was around 5 years old. I lived the first five years of my life in Virginia and never really thought about my skin color. I was a girl who was tall and I had fun with everybody. It wasn't until my family moved to Florida that I started to realize some differences. My first and most profound moment was when my family and I were traveling to Georgia to visit family members. I had been drinking a lot of water on the trip and had to use the bathroom so bad. We were pretty much on a back country highway in the middle of nowhere and peeing on the side of the road was not an option from me. Even at that age I was very very shy to do some thing like that.
We drove on until we found a small convenience store. My Father held my hand as we walked inside. There was an elderly white woman working the counter and a white man and his white son inside the store purchasing items. We walked in and the room fell silent and I was oblivious in knowing what would happen next. My father asked the woman if I could use the restroom in the store? The woman said no and I couldn't figure out why when there was a sign for the restroom. She told us we "best leave" before any trouble started. My father gripped my hand tightly as we walked out that store and in the moment I saw my skin color. I saw that something I had never noticed until that moment. Something I always thought as beautiful and meaningful because it was mine was nothing more than fear and disgust in some. That moment defined my childhood and made me mature faster than I probably would have. I love my skin color now, but to grow up knowing the hatred people have for me just because of my skin pigmentation was sometimes unbearable. I would never go back to that moment and it is definitely something that will always stick with me.