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I think I became acutely aware of that in childhood,
because you always had to have a certain kind of protective armor
about you, all the time. You weren't suffering from it, but you had
to be on guard all the time, and you learned how to bury your?
You learned the things not to do. You learned which streets not to
go to, when you were going to high school, so as to protect yourself.
It happened that the white school and the black school were
at opposite ends of the town, so the white children would come from
this end to go to that end, and we would come from that end to go
to this end, so we had to pass each other.
So you had to develop all kinds of protective measures, really
just to get by and not get into fights, which a lot of children did.
Also, we had that in the stores. In that town, it happened
that my father was a well-respected black person, and it was a
phenomenon that is not really unusual in the South, that even in
the highly segregated situations, you will have a few blacks who are
permitted to cross certain lines. For example, to go to certain
stores and be waited on. Not restaurants, but stores with merchandise.
My father was one of those people. We had certain access to
certain kinds of things, like merchandise stores, drug stores,
variety stores, that other people didn't have, or that other people
didn't take advantage of. So that you were always aware of which way
you could go, which way you couldn't go, and what you could do and
what you couldn't do, so you knew there was a real chasm, really,
between the races.
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