To Be a White Woman

4 April 2015
A personal essay on the experiences with race, gender, religion, and social class growing up as a white female in the South.

This paper is one woman’s personal account of her experiences with race, religion and the social class structure of American society. She provides a look at these issues through her childhood, school years and marriage and examines how these influences have shaped her personality and belief system.
I am a southern woman, through and through. I was raised in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida in a middle class family. Race and gender were very important to those in my family, especially the older generations. My experiences with race were different from those of my older siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They all had attended segregated schools and lived their childhood almost as a separate species quarantined from the blacks. My school years were spent in segregated schools, some at least 90% black.

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Much like Dalton Conley expresses in his book Honky, I know all to well what it’s like to be the minority. This experience sets me apart somewhat from my family. Our childhoods were so different with respect to peers and social activities. I relate more to the younger generation in the family, the nieces and nephews. As the youngest sibling of nine, I am actually closer in age to my brothers’ and sisters’ children than I am to them. This has often been a blessing but it has also created a distance between my siblings and myself that I suppose may never completely disappear.

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