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It wasn’t taken as a racist remark, but in hindsight it could have been, but then again it could have been as innocent as I believed at that time. S., we had to be bussed out to the surrounding areas of Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge which were populated by whites in homes, not projects.

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The area in which I was born was Brooklyn, specifically Coney Island.

The location of Coney Island at that time was purely black and Puerto Rican.

I can remember a teacher pinching my cheeks and saying “what a cute little monkey”.

I was happy to be acknowledged and to be told I was cute.

For a long time older black people would tell my mom how pretty I was with my dreamy eyes and my dimples.

My peers, however, did not share the same sentiments.Obviously, they were the left behinds that could not afford to run and move away like all the others like them did.Racism was not spoken about during the elementary years, there was no one around to show and express the ills of the divide.They were older, and the mother was very gruff but the daughter was very nice and friendly.As a child, the mother seemed mean, but as an adult I can only surmise that the real reason behind her anger was most likely due to the influx of blacks and Latinos moving in.Not knowing and not mingling with whites made them seem alien; with everyone one of them having a good life and not having hardships and poverty.