Shedding Color Barriers

Shedding Color Barriers

A Story by Marie Harrison

In honor of Martin Luther Kind Day











Shedding Color Barriers

Martin Luther King Day is a big deal in Atlanta!  As it should be, Atlanta was King’s home and where his final resting place is.  I moved here with my ex years ago.  I was fresh out of college, ready to tackle the world.  You have no idea what it is like living in a city like Atlanta, where white people are the minority with a racist husband.


I never truly considered my husband to be a racist until we moved to Atlanta together, then his extreme views escalated.  All through school and in his first years of work in architecture, he had close friends of all different races.  But while eating out in crowded Atlanta restaurants with him making rude references about "n*****s", "spics" and "chinks", the problem became very hairy, green and unavoidable.  Some nights when I didn’t want to crawl under the table with shame, I was truly terrified for my life!


We were always very different souls my husband and I.  Suppose another case of opposite attraction.  I wasn’t raised as a racist and frankly never saw life that way.  I thought people of all colors should be treated the same.  I didn’t pay that much attention to a person’s color when I met them before.


But my ex-husband was raised to be an extreme racist, his parents were also.  Since he always seemed to have multi-racial friends from work, I thought this was something that he would outgrow as his career blossomed and had more distance from the encouragement of his family.  But as his job grew stressful and his payscale rose, he seemed to develop more and more hostility to other races.  Things were getting much worse!


One night we were at the movie, he told me of how he fired the Ethiopian temp worker at work that day.  He was laughing about it too.  Because I ate lunch with him the previous day and heard his friend talking about this man.  I asked my ex-husband, “Is this the same guy that started working for you yesterday, the man who has a family to support?”  I told him, “You can’t fire people because of the color of their skin.  It’s wrong! That man had a family to support and you just took food out of their mouths today when you fired him.  He hadn’t even had time for you to properly examine his skills and work yet. This is going to catch up with you!”  I was afraid that I would be around to experience the aftermath of his obnoxious behavior.  His bad karma would eventually burn me too.


My husband really thought that the white race was the superior race, yet he believed in God and was a practicing Christian too.  As time passed, he would make fun of our multi-racial friends when their backs were turned. 


One summer, we were desperate to rent one of our rental properties and he refused to rent the property to any of the nice families that came to see the property, unless they were white.  I told him, he was crazy and hurting himself for acting that way.  He ended up renting to a few white students instead.  Unfortunately after living in the house only a week, these students had a huge party in the house, where one of them died from smoking too much meth.  We found out later that at they decided to redecorate by tearing a whole wall between two bedrooms down!


My husband was out of control with his extreme racist views and actions; he was just bringing me down my synergy.  He was sucking the marrow of my bones.  You just can’t imagine what it is like being around such an energy sucker full time.  I’m so glad that we are apart now and that he is now legally my ex.  It was difficult for me to establish friendships with a lot of people in Atlanta outside of work, for fear my husband possibly offending them.


We’ve been apart for almost six years now.  It’s so nice to be free of the negativity.  To be able to freely enjoy the friendships and the company of anyone without a second thought, it’s been a blessing for me.  I’ve not only shed the color of my skin, I’ve embraced my own values and mores.  I hold my values and beliefs higher than I did before.  I learned a valuable lesson in protecting and honoring my personal views of life.  To choose wisely who I want to spend my time with, not based on their skin but how open their minds are.  How they perceive the world around them.


It takes too much energy to isolate yourselves from society based on the color of your skin.  Life is richer and more enjoyable with those color barriers down.  I love living in Atlanta.  I embrace the diversity of our culture in the city. 


Looking back, I can’t believe I lived like that for so long.  It was a waste of time for me, but I thought I was in love.  I was never racist at all but I did compromise my values to be with the one that I loved.  In the end he degraded me too, not for the color of my skin but for my values.



© 2011 Marie Harrison

Author's Note

Marie Harrison
I found myself recalling how things have changed for me on this beautiful Martin Luther King Day. I probably shouldn't be sharing this story, but I am. So what do you think?

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Excellent story. I had a husband that was just like yours. I was just as you...depleting of energy, spirit and soul. Glad to be aways from hims as your are of yours. As far as I'm concerned those are the types of people oI.m against, the ones with no souls, I could care less waht their skin color ism, their gender, or their way of life

Posted 11 Years Ago

"Martin Luther King Day is a big deal in Atlanta!" A good, catchy line to start a story, so was the title. I love the word: color, and I use it often in my poetry, even though color here refers to skin, which was different from what I had expected to read, I was really pulled in.

"I was afraid that I would be around to experience the aftermath of his obnoxious behavior. His bad karma would eventually burn me too." Beautiful and thoughtful. Not many people are aware or strongly believe in 'Karma."

"We’ve been apart for almost six years now. It’s so nice to be free of the negativity. " I def. agree.

"Looking back, I can’t believe I lived like that for so long. It was a waste of time for me, but I thought I was in love." Mistakes can take a hold of us for years, but they are the most effective of medicines. I'm also glad you're through with that man. Excellent write. A really strong, deep experience brought fresh from the reality of a young lady with a beautiful, free soul. 90.

Posted 11 Years Ago

I am happy for you, no one deserves to live around so much negativity, life is so much more rewarding when lived with an open mind.

Posted 12 Years Ago

Transformation is meant to happen...!! This is the rule of the game..!!

Good one..!!!

Posted 12 Years Ago


Posted 12 Years Ago

I am myself, a visible minority, in being a Transwoman, so I live daily with that type of hatred, directed at me. Sadly, in my case, having to deal with a medical community, which is very transphobic by its nature. So, as I read your struggles to distance yourself, from your ex's bigotry, a huge cheer is shouted here, for having the strength and courage to realize, hatred is not the way, one should live thier lives. Thank you for sharing this personal part of yourself, with us.

Posted 12 Years Ago

Marie, this was one excellent story! I've never been racist, but have worked with some! I agree that we all should be treated equally!

Posted 12 Years Ago

Wow! Amazing job. Nicely done (:

Posted 12 Years Ago

I'm sure glad you're no longer with him, he sounds like bad news in so many different ways. Now you can be free to be yourself without bowing to what someone else wants. I managed to do the same some years ago and it does feel so liberating. It's often when your free from such a controlling and negative person do you realize how far you've drowned in their darkness. Excellent write.

Posted 12 Years Ago

Funny, I saw this less about racism and more about an overall theme of negativity and a powerful woman freeing herself from her OWN oppression.
I get the message, i just enjoy more that it is multilayered.

It also suprises me less that with things like the crusades and spanish inquisition sanctioned by the pope that it would be a hardcore nutso Religinut that was a hated of everyone and everything.

Goddamn my own opinions. I guess it comes out based on the for that..nice job!
ho ho
go with god

Posted 12 Years Ago

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25 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on January 18, 2011
Last Updated on January 20, 2011
Tags: Martin Luther King, Color Barriers, Racism, Past Relationship, Values and Mores, Honoring Your Own Beliefs


Marie Harrison
Marie Harrison

Atlanta, GA

Momma told me to get out and enjoy life, so now I'm going to dance. more..


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