When this girl was introduced to me, it was her last resort. She had come to Oklahoma Christian University. She had had a fight with her roommate and just couldn’t get a long with her at all. She told the dorm mother that her brother had been killed in a race riot, so the dorm mother assumed the problem was race, but it wasn’t. The dorm mother tried to solve the problem by putting her into a room with some black girls. She accused the black girls of stealing from her, and there was another fight. The dorm mother didn’t know what to do. She finally thought of me because she knew me and thought if someone couldn’t get along with me, they couldn’t get along with anyone. She put the girl in my room. I tried to make friends with her.
One day, this girl offered me a very pretty dress saying she would love to see what it looked like on me. I was surprised, but the dress was extremely pretty. I tried it on. She told me it looked great and that I needed to keep it. I was completely surprised! I couldn’t understand why she had given me a dress. The next thing you know, she had accused me of stealing. I figured out what she had done to the black girls, and I wasn’t going to fall for it, and I didn’t. I just gave her the dress back and apologized telling her I must have misunderstood. I think she didn’t know what to do when I didn’t fight with her because shortly after that, she dropped out of school and went home. I had another roommate, a twin, and an extremely good friend. She and her twin sister were in my wedding. They both became missionaries, and I am still friends with both of them. When the girl whose brother had been killed in a race riot dropped out, my other room mate felt bad and went to visit her trying to see if she could help, but there was nothing she could do for her.
Many years later, I know now what the problem actually was, and it had nothing to do with race. I was an Air Force Brat growing up. That is what they called kids like me. My dad was in the military, and we spent our lives jumping from place to place. We went through culture shock so many times our heads were spinning. The girl whose brother was killed in a race riot was also an Air Force Brat. You must realize that if your dad is constantly moving, and you are constantly changing schools, you have trouble making friends. You don’t learn to have long term relationships because once you make a friend, in the next few weeks or months, they are taken away from you. You never have anyone to talk to. If you have a problem, you have to solve it yourself.
When I began studying Cross Cultural Communication, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I learned to understand myself better and to understand my family better because we had all been through Culture Shock many times. I tried to tell my dad, but he had this attitude that many have. He said, “My kids don’t go through Culture Shock. My kids are above it. My kids always adapt.” His kids were human, and we did go through it, and so did this girl whose brother was killed.
When kids go through culture shock, many things can happen to them according to experts in Cross Cultural Communication, and I agree because I have seen it. Some of them get on drugs trying to cope because they don’t know how to handle what is happening around them. Some of them become completely withdrawn, and that is what happened to me. If their families are constantly moving, and not just once, some of them become liars, and some begin stealing. You see, to them people become temporary. They are taught that people don’t matter because they are constantly leaving them behind. They don’t learn to form longer term relationships. They don’t know how.
As for me, I withdrew into books, and I happened to read the best book that I could ever read: The Bible, and it helped me put my life into perspective, but not every child begins reading the Bible. I read lots of things, not just the Bible, and I read many philosophies about how to live our lives as well as novels, comic books, etc. It made a difference for me, and I eventually learned to come out of my shell. However, some of these kids never figure their way out without causing trouble first. This girl had learned that people were temporary and expendable. She wasn’t used to having to form relationships with anyone. The one relationship she had with her brother had been severed.
When she got into a dorm room with another girl, she may have blamed the white girl for her brothers death or she may just have thought, “I can do whatever I want to this girl because she is expendable. She is temporary.” She blamed her brother’s death on how she acted to the dorm mother. The dorm mother bought it and put her in the room with black girls because she was black, but she didn’t know how to form a relationship with the other black girls either. She couldn’t form a relationship with anyone because she had been constantly uprooted and had to leave people behind like I had had to. She didn’t want to form a relationship with the black girls, but she no longer had the excuse of them being white, so she had to figure out a way to fight with them. She probably gave them something just as she had done to me, and then accused them of stealing. Perhaps she was hoping to be given a room by herself, but that is not what happened. The dorm mother looked for someone who wouldn’t fight with her, me.
I figured out what she had done to the other girls, and I didn’t fall into the trap. I didn’t fight with her, and she didn’t know what to do with me. In her world, long term relationships didn’t exist. My room mate who was a twin had a big heart and wanted to do something good for the girl, but she also couldn’t establish a relationship with her because the girl just didn’t know how to have a relationship with anyone. She had learned tricks to get away from people and tried to blame it on everyone else. It didn’t matter if they were black or white, but she had blamed her first failure to get along on the fact that the girl was white and she was black. She saw it as a way to do what she wanted, and she was using it. Many people who make a line between blacks and whites do so for some ulterior motive, not because they actually think there is something wrong with the other race.