The Autobiography Project

Your Autobiographies

Erna Rosemond's Autobiography (submitted 4/21/06)

He was the color of chocolate butterscotch, a golden glowing brown as if the sun were shining from within. I had never been so close to a black man before, and I was transfixed. His hand grazed mine as he held the door open, his eyes never leaving my face, and my pale, bleached skin looked raw, unfinished next to his. We entered the room together, and he took the seat next to me. This was my first faculty meeting, my first semester teaching English to high school students. I had seen him before, knew he taught woodshop, but we had never spoken. His first words were both flattering and disarming, and I was charmed despite the sense of foreignness that made me curious and uncomfortable at the same time. "You have very pretty hair", he said. Unconsciously, I put a hand up to my unruly mass of red curls and breathed out a thank you.

After several months of frequent meetings and conversations within the school, he asked me to his apartment. My ambivalence tilted to the side of intrigue just enough for me to accept his invitation.

He told me some of his story that night, and although he spoke frankly, without self-pity, I wept to hear of the cruelty that people are capable of imposing on one another. This was a time when the marriage of blacks and whites was illegal in 28 states. It was a time of oppression and ignorance and bigotry. It was a time when the big cities of the nation erupted in the summer heat with the ferocity of a forest fire, wreaking willful and wanton destruction with smouldering ashes remaining, ready to rage again. It was not a time for a white girl and a black man to fall in love.

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