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Experiencing racism as an 11-year-old girl

Utah Success Stories

(ABC4 NEWS – Salt Lake City, UT) Do you really know what it feels like to be different? In this week’s Utah Success Stories, I got a chance to spotlight a Utah woman that shares what it was like to be a black girl in the 5th grade.

Utah Success Stories profiles companies and people that make a difference.  I also do in-depth, online interviews with people from all walks of life, called “Jessop’s Journal”.

It was my pleasure to attend The NAACP Salt Lake Branch 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Luncheon. There was a woman there named “Mack” that has the singing voice of an angel. She performed a stirring version of the song “Freedom”. The crowd included a large contingency of first responders getting awards including () Salt Lake County Sherriff, Rosie Rivera, and Salt Lake City Police Chief, Mike Brown. The audience gave Mack a rare, but well-deserved, standing ovation.

Given recent events going on in our country, I felt that this quick excerpt from my extended interview with Mack seemed appropriate to share.

To give you some background, Mack was adopted by a loving white couple when she was young. I asked her what it was like to grow up as a person of color in Utah. As a father and a grandfather of little girls myself, Mack’s answer was heart-wrenching.

Mack told me about being invited to a party; “When I was 11, my 5th grade best friend told me; “just so you know my mother is racist.”  

She continued her story; “I got to her house 15 minutes early.  Her Mom cracked the door open and told me I was too early and that I needed to walk to the school because that is 15 minutes away and then by the time, I got back the party would have started. I thought that was weird. Why can’t I just come inside and hang out until the party starts? I walked to the school and as I’m walking to school, oh yeh, I’m different from her. She’s not comfortable with it. She doesn’t like it. I remember sitting down on the swings of the school. I got to school and I don’t know if I even want to go back. I sat on the swings and I just felt sad for myself, I felt sad for her and I felt sad for my friend.  I just could not understand the reason I wasn’t likable for a better term in her eyes. About 5 minutes later my friend pulls up, with her Dad in their truck and I just started to bawl. I started to cry; I was so. That was the moment that I realized that I am different.”  

Consider this your personal invitation to watch the rest of this Jessop’s Journal interview, along with more stories, on-demand at abc4.com/journal. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.


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Doug Jessop
For Doug Jessop, it all started with a cassette recorder he got for Christmas when he was 12 years old growing up in Southern California. Doug interviewed relatives, friends and anyone else that might have a good story. You can follow Doug at www.DougJessop.com, on YouTube.com/DougJessop, and @DougJessopNews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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