Woman Breaks Her Silence To Battle Against Bullying - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, Ohio

Woman Breaks Her Silence To Battle Against Bullying

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By Denise Yost

A woman who was the victim of racial bullying is speaking out, hoping others can learn from her experience.

"I didn't realize I was adopted. My family was Caucasian but they never made a big deal about it, but on my first day of kindergarten a little boy came up to me and said, 'Why are your parents white?" said Michelle Jones-Jackson.

Jones and her twin brother Michael became part of Ned and Debbie Jones' family a week after they turned two years old. A few years later, they found the world outside their loving family home in Coolville a cold and sometimes cruel place.

They were two of only a handful of black students in the Federal Hocking School District. Michelle said she would rely on her brother to stand up for her when she was taunted. By the second grade, she said, the taunts were intense.

"I was called [n-----], black trash, told nobody loved me and I should just kill myself," Michelle said.

Her brother was held back, so by the 4th grade, Michelle was often on her own, trying to fit in. But, she said, things only worsened as she reached junior high school.

"That's when the death threats came. I would be in music class and boys sitting behind me would say things like, 'Going coon hunting tonight, burn a cross in your yard, you're not going to live another day," she said.

Michelle said her family proved a haven and filed a lawsuit to toughen school policy. She said she wouldn't have made it without her family and two friends.

In high school, a more subtle racism and isolation led Michelle to make self-destructive choices, still bearing scars from the razor blade she used to cut herself.

"When I was bullied, I was numb. I would put that smile on my face and go to volleyball and track or studies. When I got home, I needed to feel some type of pain," she said.

Despite her struggles, Michelle was salutatorian of her high school graduating class, received an academic scholarship and graduated with a psychology degree from Denison University.

But even though her college years, she remained haunted.

"I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts," she said.

A blind date led her to her husband Chris and the couple now has twin girls. Michelle remains in counseling and is making progress. But for the sake of her daughters and others now in school, she's ready to end her silence and get involved.

"To go into schools and speak with students, mentor students and to let them know you can make it and to let the bullies know you can't take our power away," she said.

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