Crossing Division Street


| September 11, 2002 Issue


Crossing Division Street, Jim Schutze, Dallas Observer
"The most terrible thing I can make myself say about white people is also the most wonderful. Somewhere, however buried and refracted by guilt, the truth lives in our souls. We know what we're doing. It's why we are susceptible to improvement. It's why we have no excuses," writes Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer, recollecting his childhood in the pre-Civil Rights North. Schutze's story is included in writer Bernestine Singley's new anthology "When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories." Schutze spent first grade as the only white kid at Jones School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After a few fights, Schutze actually acclimated to his bizarre surroundings and was crushed when he was forced across town to the all-white Angell School. But the worst was yet to come, when Schutze entered junior high and the two schools merged. Schutze felt the pressure of his white peers to ignore his old friends from Jones -- and he did. That was the hardest part for Schutze then and now, knowing that his racism -- as with many -- "was not guileless or unwitting. It was learned, decisional, and willful."
--Abbie Jarman
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