I was walking home with two of my friends from school.
I had to think about this. I only knew two Negroes. One worked as a janitor at my Dad’s business.
The other was a woman who sometimes help my Mom clean our house.
They both seemed nice enough.
“No,” I said. “Why would I hate them?”
My other friend had a different answer.
I didn’t know any Mexicans, so I didn’t have an opinion, except I was pretty sure my friends didn’t know any Mexicans either. Or Negroes. In my house we weren’t allowed to say the word Nigger.
“Bumpers? Like on a car?” I asked.
“Nah,” he said. “The Niggers who bump white people off the sidewalk.”
He went on, “My uncle told me that they hire other Niggers to walk down the street downtown and pretend to accidentally bump white people into the street. He said that if some dirty Nigger did that to him, he’d hang him from the nearest tree.”
“That’s why they only hire Nigger women. Big fat ones. Nobody would hang a woman, even a Nigger.”
“And it happens all the time. My uncle says he wouldn’t even go downtown anymore because of all the Niggers if he didn’t work there.”
I tried to think if I’d ever seen anyone bumping anyone off the sidewalk downtown, but I couldn’t remember anything like that.
I asked Mom about it when I got home.
She just stared at the ceiling for a while.
“That’s ridiculous. People are ignorant and they say stupid things. Don’t believe everything you hear.”
The next day I told my friends what Mom had said.