I was born with white skin in a country with almost only white-skinned people. I never noticed a difference in the way people of other skin colours were treated. One day, though, I coloured my skin brown for a day. It was then I realised that even in a country like Denmark, people of other skin colours are treated different.
In this text, the main character, a white woman named Carrie, starts to work at a school for underprivileged children in New Jersey. She is only 22 years old
and recently graduated from college. All she wants to do is dance and be as good at it as possible. Skin colour has never really been something for her to think about, because to her, there have only ever been those, who dance, and those, who does not. At this school, though, most of the students are black. At first, she does not even notice. As usual, the thing she observes is how poorly all these students are dancing. One day, though, she is out walking and meets one of the other teachers, Andy. They walk together for a while, talking, then Carrie has to go back to her students and Andy takes her hand as he walks her back.
“He took my hand in his. His hand was very dark against my white skin. Strangely, the difference seemed even greater under the glare of the parking lot lights. I hadn’t registered before. That he was black. I mean, I knew the first moment I had met him, just as I knew that most of the students in the program were black, but I had never really been aware of it till now” (p.3 ll.76-81)
This is the moment where she realises that the world is not divided between dancers and non-dancers, but (for some people) between black and white. And another thing happens at this moment: Lorraine, the program coordinator, was watching the two of them holding hands, and what she sees apparently disgusts her. Carrie finds it hard to understand and explain prejudice, yet after this evening, she is acting almost prejudicially towards Andy from that point of the story. She does not...