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"What Are You Staring At?"

1967 -- Southern California -- Caucasian, redhead

I grew up around Caucasian, Japanese, African American, Irish, German, Jewish, Christian people. I had never considered one being different from another, except that they had cool skin colors and neat family traditions.

When I was 12, I was in line at Magic Mountain (Six Flags Theme Park), watching the Revolution's loop (it was a new thing for roller coasters), and was quite intent and staring at it as the cars went around. Suddenly, a large African American woman grabbed me and yelled, "What do you think you're staring at??!!" It seems that she thought I was staring at her. I was shocked that anyone would ever 1) stare at someone over skin color and 2) be so aggressive, assuming that I, a white person, would be automatically classified in this way.

My friends were appalled, and an older sibling had to tell me about the social (racial/racist) reasons she thought I'd be doing that. I felt that she attacked me because of my race. (After she yelled at me, I pointed at the coaster, and said, "the roller coaster." She spun around, turning her back to me, and didn't even apologize.)