Some Things Never Change

Some Things Never Change

Bailee Mason
Ensworth School
Class of 2017

​I am a young African American woman who lives in a big house and attends an elite private school where wealthy white kids mingle and marry, in an endless cycle of white wealth and power begetting another generation. So just exactly how do I see the world? Growing up as an affluent black girl is a blessing, but my 17 years have shaped me to understand the meaning of implicit racial bias and to rise above it and become racially-tolerant and diverse person I am.

When I was five I didn’t comprehend my blessings. It was routine to wake up on Sundays, go up to a family suite and watch my father, a rather famous Tennessee Titan, play football. Or maybe the family would take a quick flight over to support the team on a Monday night or holiday. I saw my normal as normal; there wasn’t a question of the different because it was all I knew. However, we moved to Baltimore when my father was traded (an occupational hazard I guess), and I began to understand and appreciate my life. I attended a private all girls’ boarding school, Garrison Forest, where kids from every conceivable background appreciated the chance to attend this school.

My classmates could speak in languages I had never heard and told stories of their heritage that was so different than my own. A typical weekend might have included a bat mitzvah and attending a Spanish dinner or having latkes brought in by a mother at school. Another NFL trade later, we moved back to Nashville. But my experience at Garrison Forest prepared me well for Ensworth, a private prep school where I am one of five other African-American women in my grade.

I have always felt like I was under a microscope; whether a teacher mentioned my famous father or some ever so slight by the other girls my because of my race. A mental obstacle everyday my goal was to never lose myself in hate and jealously. Because I have discovered that my heart longs to foster diversity, value dignity, and accept in others the differences that I may not understand now but want to understand and respect. I am who I am because I have an identity that is unique to me and only me and I am proud to be who I am.

My friends who listened to my logic and cared about me as a person began to see things differently. Because I spoke a mantra of diversity and acceptance, my friends and I express ourselves in our own way, we all grow to become less judgmental of ourselves and more accepting of each other.

Regardless of the mantra of tolerance, I continue to learn the lesson that everyone isn’t your friend no matter how nice you are just because of who you are. Some don’t bother to understand me. Most make some sort of judgment about me. Enter my boyfriend, a white Southern boy from an exclusive boys’ school and sides continued to be drawn, just like it was thirty or forty years ago.

Perhaps provincial Nashville never changes. But I have always kept a level head and will always lead with a smile and an open heart, free of bias or judgment. I am always there when a friend needs me and I desire to make new friends whose stories thrill me and teach me a new lesson about the world. I aspire to be a global citizen who can communicate a message of acceptance and a mantra of human rights and dignity that can be distinct and precise.

​I’m not trying to be something that I’m not—I’m just trying to get better at who I am.

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