LOUISE: Black and White

When I was in grade school in the mid fifties, a teacher walked up to my friends and me on the playground and told us we would be having a new student and she wanted us to be nice to her. As she walked away, we looked at each other in confusion. Why wouldn’t we be nice to her? Once we got inside the classroom and settled into our seats, the teacher introduced the student. Gwendolyn was as skinny as I was and a little taller. She also had darker skin but I thought nothing of it. Much of our little community consisted of people of Native American heritage so what was the big deal about having a student with African American heritage?

Louise with her granddaughter MonicaGwen became friends with all of us and as we entered high school, her height made her one of our star basketball players, guarding the goal against our opponents. We were a team and none of us thought about color until one night coming home on the bus from an out of town game. As was our habit, the bus pulled up to a restaurant. The coach ran inside to make sure they had room for us—both girls and boys teams traveled together. On this particular night, he got back on the bus and told the driver to find another restaurant. But something was different. He was ang