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“Separate Pasts” by Melton Mclaurin Essay

In the book “Separate Pasts”, by Melton Mclaurin he recalls his memories of growing up in his hometown of Wade, North Carolina. McLaurin writes his interactions with the black community and observes the segregated lifestyle of blacks and whites. He honestly recalls his boyhood during the 1950’s, an era when segregation existed unchallenged in the rural south, which was a time when racism was a day-to-day rule. McLaurin honestly explores the relationships he had with his fellow white peers as well as the African Americans during his childhood in the southern United States. He did not understand at a young age how much race played a part in life, but had the decency to be kind hearted to each person he encountered, regardless of his or her ethnicity. I believe that McLaurin adequately proves that Wade was a town divided entirely upon race and social economic status.

In Separate Pasts, many different people of both white and black race encounter McLaurin and his views on racism. Growing up in a town of segregation cause many assorted emotions within his intellect. Many on the challenges that McLaurin went through of determining his feelings towards blacks caused many disagreements for him towards people he contemplate as being his friend although it was not communally acknowledged. McLaurin grew up with the understanding that whites were treated differently than blacks. Although they both were enforced to work together in the village, he then noticed everyone played a different role based off their race. Some of the roles were how blacks always entered through the back doors of homes, held the doors open for whites, did the whites laundry, as well as being responsible for all the labor work for whites.

The first person to influence McLaurin’s racial view was his black playmate Bobo. During this time period it was suitable for white children to play with black children. Bobo was a year younger than McLaurin and they repeatedly played basketball together. It started one afternoon when McLaurin, Bobo and six other people both white and black started playing a pickup game of basketball. The pickup games were basketball games that were played between two interested teams, regardless of their race. As the game was in process, the ball that they were using was known to have a leak. McLaurin and Bobo’s ball was no longer able to bounce so they disturbed the game and went to the store where he worked. To inflate the ball there was a normal process that needed to be followed.

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