Racism in America: My experience by Sandi Dick

On January 20, 1970, I arrived at JFK Airport in New York. This was my first trip out of my country, Jamaica. The population in Jamaica almost 93.0 percent black, so I was surprised at the number of whites at the airport. I was also apprehensive about how I would be treated, as it was less than two years since Martin Luther King was murdered. While in New York, I completed high school and one year of college but never encountered any racial or cultural situations.

In 1974, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and was transferred to Fort McClellan, Alabama for Basic Training. From October, the month I arrived, until the day I graduated in mid- December, I never left the Post. The black soldiers were advised to remain on base, as there had been assaults on military women, but especially black women. For the first time I began to understand what it was to be afraid because I was black. It’s been 48 years since I arrived in the U.S., and I am an American. I have encountered many incidents of racism and other “isms, not only in the military, but also in the Episcopal Church.

Adapted from Sandi  Dick’s  story
in the February Tartan.
Sandi will facilitate
the February  12 workshop on Ijeoma Oluo!