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Melton A. McLaurin explores the era during the 1950s when racism was a part of everyday live in his book Separate Pasts. Throughout the book, McLaurin delves into relationships he had with white and black peers. The one consistent theme McLaurin seeks to prove is that his hometown of Wade, North Carolina was one contingent on race relations and social-economic status.
McLaurin discusses how the first time he felt different than his peers was in his youth when the neighborhood would play basketball together. One day, McLaurin brought two black peers to his grandfather’s shop to fill up the basketball ball with air. When his friend Bobo could not fill the ball up with air efficiently, McLaurin decided to take matters into his own hands. Right when he put the needle to his mouth, he mentioned how he became overcome with emotion. Commenting on the event, McLaurin states that “The realization transformed my prejudices into a physically painful experience. Such actions violated my racial purity. It threatened me with germs which, everyone said, were common among blacks” (pg. 37).

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