Why I prayed my daughter's first college roommate wouldn't be white

I have been white all my life.

But all that changed when I moved to Chicago, got pregnant, and gave birth to a healthy latino baby boy. I was still white, clearly... but my family was suddenly biracial. It became even more evident when I fell in love with a Mexican. We married and had two more little latino babies.

I am the only white person in my family. The people I love the most are brown.

Our babies grew old enough to go to school, and as we are a very lucky family, we found the perfect school for them: a family oriented, Spanish language immersion school just a few miles away. It was a school founded by parents and geared towards social justice. We had great teachers, white, black and brown. Fitting as the student body was largely brown, black and white.

Elena and her IAMS friends at graduation

Lynn and friends at the 8th grade dinner dance.

We made great friends at Inter-American. I connected with white/black and latino parents in Spanish and in English. My three kids had their own friends, few of whom were ever white. Many of their friends were like them, of mixed race. We felt very comfortable for the 16 years our three kids were students there.

When we left, each of my children had varied high school experiences. My oldest, Tom (my whitest looking child), went to a very Polish/Arab dominant high school. His friends were mostly white, and his adjustment wasn't completely healthy. He became a trouble maker (with a heart of gold no less). He managed to graduate and was accepted at SIU where he had a wonderful roommate but neither of them would return after the first year.

My middle child, who is the spitting image of his Mexican father, attended a very white/jewish/black affluent high school. I think we knew two other latinos in his class.. But Adam fit in quite well with his love of sports and basic fun. Adam now attends an Ivy League University where he moves seamlessly between white/jewish friend groups and those of students of color.

img_0998My youngest, ended up in a very prestigious, down-to-earth school with a large asian and white population. After having mostly latino friends in grade school, Lynn ended up with mostly asian and white friends in high school. However, something changed over the years with her white friends... and after Trump was elected some of those relationships dissolved.

The differences between Lynn's white friends and non-white friends cut across cultural, racial. and socioeconomic boundaries. Where my other children could straddle some of these boundaries with ease, Lynn is more firmly rooted in her latino identity. The white kids in her friend group had trouble relating to the challenges children of immigrants have. They also didn't understand the full extent to which race defines a person's experience. And finally, for many of her white friends, money was never an issue... What a challenge it was to stay friends with all these fundamental differences defining your outlook on life.

That's probably why I found myself saying a little prayer before my daughter got her room assignments for her first college dorm: "Please God. Please... don't place her with a white roommate. Anyone but a white roommate." I honestly believed that she would have the best chances for a good relationship with a roommate of any other background.

As it is, God complied. And apparently he couldn't find any perfect roommate for Lynn, so he gave her a private room.

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