Skip to main content

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have written a tremendous number of words on this site about racism and its resiliency in today's America. Though I don't purport to have all of the answers or even a few of the complicated solutions, I believe that my perspective is both unique and valuable. I am 26 years old, and I'm white. I grew up in a small South Carolina town where required integration was met with creative redistricting, creating de-facto segregation with a primarily "white" high school and a primarily "black" high school. That practice didn't abate until 1995, when our town formed Darlington High School, a mix of the two that caused many parents to pull their kids out of their respective schools to put them in schools named after Robert E. Lee, James F. Byrnes, and the like.

I grew up and developed intimate relationships with racists of all stripes. Some made their racism clear, using the n-word with impunity. Others practiced a more socially acceptable form of racism, pepped with words like "colored" and "darkening." I heard all of the jokes, and I have yet to experience a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that did not include one of my friends thanking James Earl Ray for his work.

Over the last few years, I've done some soul searching on what powered the mindsets of the people I grew up with. What I've discovered is that there are no easy answers. These people and their nefarious mindsets have developed as a the result of environmental factors like poor parenting. They are victims of their own inability to Google, and their mindsets reflect a woefully poor understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it. They plod along through life with no understanding of how their hatred effects others. Like track stars who don't know that they're supposed to jump over the hurdles, they run roughshod over the emotions of fellow human beings, and when called on it, these racists find refuge by accusing others of playing the race card.

What I've realized, as well, is that it is, at best, a coin flip whether a person makes it out of a racist upbringing without adopting a bigoted mentality. It's just way easier to adopt the proclivities of the authority figures around you when the alternative requires hard work. From a very young age, I have been physically bothered by racism. I'd cry tears of anger at the mention of the n-word as a 12-year old, and I never had a problem standing up to racism where it reared its head.

How did I come to reject the patent racism that infected many of the people who grew up around me? I'm by no means a super person on this issue. It's not by some accident or some immutable character strength that I made it out untainted. Instead, it was because of the bridge built by one extraordinary relationship with one pair of twins. Reflecting on this relationship, it has become clear to me that respect for different kinds of human beings begins with an honest appreciation for the human qualities of individuals. And that appreciation is best gained through exposure to life-changing relationships.

In honor of MLK Day, my story follows the page break.

I was ten years old in 1997. It was some time in January, and I was invited to a honorary dinner for the town's two state championship football participants. My team from the Small Fry Division had made it all the way to the state championship, knocking off Marion, Marlboro County, and Orangeburg on the way. We lost to Rock Hill by one touchdown, undone by the only Small Fry team that could regularly complete passes.

That dinner also honored the Darlington High School Falcons, who lost to Berkley High School in a hard-fought game. That Darlington team featured a number of players who would go on to play division I college football, including future South Carolina receiver Brian Scott. He had set the state record for receptions, and he was predictably the most popular player to the many 10-year olds there. I was seated next to the team's other receiver, though. Travis Burns played on the other side of Brian Scott, and he wound up with the more productive professional career. Travis and his twin brother Tracy settled on a small division I school, and Travis later amassed more than 3,000 yards in one season for the Arena Football League's Norfolk Nighthawks.

I always had a certain appreciation for Travis on the field, and I thought he didn't get enough attention because the admittedly spectacular Scott played the same position. I also have a long history as a contrarian, and when other kids flocked to the big star, I wanted to do something different. I'm not sure whether the Burns twins really liked me or whether they just enjoyed the attention, but they made me feel special that night. They asked about my experiences on the field and in school, and I proudly told Tracy that I had kept his sweat band from a game earlier that year.

The foundation of our extraordinary relationship was laid that night, but it grew partly because of a lie. Travis was also a star basketball player, and played point guard for the Falcons. He told me I should come watch one of their games, and I told my grandmother that Travis had told me I could sit behind the bench. As it turned out, my grandmother worked with his mother, and doubting the legitimacy of the story, my grandmother asked his mother whether it could be true. His mother assured my grandmother that if Travis had said it, then it must be true. When I went to the game the next Friday, Travis left pre-game warmups when I came into the arena. He had arranged for me to be a waterboy, and with that, I got my seat behind the bench. A real thrill for a 10-year old kid, I traveled to all of the team's games, and I was there through wins and a playoff flameout at the hands of North Charleston High School.

Later that year, when Travis was set to graduate, we went out to a meal. I rode with him, and he had placed a black box on the dashboard. He motioned for me to open it, and when I did, I saw an incredible gift. The Darlington High School football players had received commemorative watches for their trip to the championship game, and the Burns brothers decided to give me one of their two watches. I looked at the watch - black band with a silver face and a Darlington helmet inside - and said, "Hey, that's pretty cool." I had no idea at the time that it was mine, but Travis let me know that he and his brother wanted me to have it. I wouldn't truly appreciate this until four years later when I won a state championship of my own. I valued my own state championship ring immensely, because it represented hundreds of hours of hard work. That my heroes - at age 18 no less - were willing to share with me that sort of keepsake was remarkable at the time and it's special even today.

As time went on, my relationship with the Burns brothers grew. In its infancy, the relationship involved Travis coming to my little league games and me giving him a call every so often. I went to watch him play in college, and I followed his box scores every Sunday. Later I saw him play in the arena leagues, and I've got a football from one of his touchdowns. Travis sent graduation gifts and we would share the occasional conversation.

As we have turned into grown-ups, the topics of our conversation have changed. A few years back, I served as an usher in one of Travis's wedding celebrations, and I've consulted with the twins on major school and career choices. We've gathered for college football games, where we have enjoyed a drink or two and some conversation about Travis's children. Over time, the twins have grown from childhood heroes to mentors to valued friends. They've been examples for how to live a good life.

I struggled for many years to describe my relationship with Travis to people on the outside. What's the right word here? Hero? Mentor? Friend? Big brother? In reality, it has become all of those things, and I regularly describe him as "outside of my father, the best man I know."

Travis and Tracy both have careers. Travis has earned his Master's and works in education. He has two young boys, the youngest of which turned four yesterday. He's a father, a husband, and a part-time little league coach. This past spring, I sent Travis a long message, essentially thanking him for providing the sort of bridge that allowed me to abhor the racism all around me.

At a very young age, we forged an improbable and extraordinary relationship that remains today. I check on the Burns twins often, and I try to see them when I can. A couple of teenage black men befriending a young white kid in a part of the world where racial harmony isn't exactly commonplace. At the time, I didn't think about race, and I'm sure they didn't either. I was too young for that kind of stuff, and I looked up to them for their talents. I appreciated them for their willingness to spend time with the childhood version of me. It wasn't until later when my relationships with Travis and Tracy helped me frame racial issues. While many of my friends saw the "black community" as a homogenous group fit for collective ridicule, I was able to see those people as individuals. When I heard racially-charged jokes, I thought about my friends, and about how good they had been to me. Those life-altering relationships served as the antidote to the blatant racism that I was exposed to during those formative years.

Now that I've grown up, I've experienced similar phenomena with other groups of people. Forging relationship with people of different religions and sexual orientations has forced me to paint people not with the broad brush often applied to groups. In the end, people are just people. They're due respect, and they are capable of extraordinary things. I am largely indebted to Travis and Tracy Burns for helping me bridge the most important gap, and for continuing to engage in an extraordinary and meaningful relationship.

Originally posted to Coby DuBose on Criminal Injustice, Race, and Poverty on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Black Kos community, Barriers and Bridges, RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (261+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, tardis10, blueoasis, Denise Oliver Velez, strobusguy, Yamara, kevinpdx, smileycreek, SilverWillow, Lorikeet, rogerdaddy, Lily O Lady, tecampbell, Kidspeak, rexymeteorite, Flying Goat, ModenaMerican, Pam from Calif, Nova Land, WI Deadhead, paradox, uciguy30, citylights, what in the world, sweetsister, BachFan, Kimba, bumbi, nailmaker, Mighty Ike, WearyIdealist, CwV, CocoaLove, newinfluence, Chi, theKgirls, zenox, petulans, marleycat, lavorare, LucyTooners, kumaneko, DoggiesWatches, One Pissed Off Liberal, elziax, BlueStateRedhead, TexMex, lady sisyphus, DavidMS, The grouch, Paddy999, nomandates, Getreal1246, tobendaro, kamrom, dkw, HudsonValleyMark, TomP, stevie avebury, Livvy5, Dahankster, America Jones, OhioNatureMom, petesmom, MaikeH, Iberian, deha, blueintheface, kyril, tapestry, erratic, cv lurking gf, Bob B, pateTX, Nulwee, third Party please, Yasuragi, glorificus, bethcf4p, MRA NY, jfromga, johanus, Texdude50, zerelda, wader, anodnhajo, shypuffadder, Rogneid, pasadena beggar, Empty Vessel, kerflooey, MBNYC, mindara, Sixty Something, Joieau, AnnieR, a2nite, CS11, Bill Roberts, starfu, Nowhere Man, lineatus, rb608, argomd, Oye Sancho, My Spin, FG, WithHoney, janmtairy, DixieDishrag, pengiep, Over the Edge, Tommye, Habitat Vic, Simul Iustus et Peccator, GDbot, Sun Tzu, FlyingToaster, tin woodswoman, Its a New Day, commonmass, hooktool, where4art, Clytemnestra, EclecticCrafter, mwk, texasmom, Steven D, BrianParker14, LynnS, eve, Gowrie Gal, luckydog, eru, Lucy Montrose, lissablack, inclusiveheart, Michael James, nmjardine, blue aardvark, Emerson, Laurel in CA, enufisenuf, Glinda, Debby, LarisaW, virginwoolf, chmood, Jollie Ollie Orange, rasfrome, HeyMikey, Sean Robertson, davehouck, FindingMyVoice, akmk, mod2lib, Shockwave, wtpvideo, sow hat, AllisonInSeattle, immigradvocate, Arahahex, ladybug53, blue91, Southcoast Luna, slowbutsure, La Gitane, bronte17, wretchedhive, Chrisfs, TiaRachel, VitaminD, melo, Grandma Susie, GAS, jabney, SCFrog, freelunch, Chas 981, ltsply2, tofumagoo, Chaddiwicker, terjeanderson, Aaa T Tudeattack, oortdust, rhutcheson, Jay C, CA ridebalanced, peachcreek, Noddy, tgypsy, AlwaysDemocrat, ladywithafan, Robynhood too, gizmo59, sb, myrealname, Mad Season, Spirit of Life, awesumtenor, slothlax, leftist vegetarian patriot, Imhotepsings, Temmoku, CTLiberal, Red State Misfit, TarheelDem, volleyboy1, prettygirlxoxoxo, blackjackal, YoungArizonaLiberal, profundo, sfgb, denig, nzanne, MichaelNY, ratzo, CA coastsider, DvCM, boadicea, oceanview, mikejay611, Carolyn in Oregon, LeoDaLion, Patate, MA Liberal, Siri, some other george, Eyesbright, ranton, rlk, Gardener in PA, Leftleaner, midnight lurker, Tennessee Dave, JJG Miami Shores, pdxteacher, northcountry21st, myboo, harchickgirl1, jedennis, METAL TREK, splashy, SoCalSal, roses, raincrow, Angie in WA State, Pistoche, Oh Mary Oh, bontemps2012, AnnCetera, vernonbc, dwahzon, DRo, Friend in Miami, eodell, Luma, gulfgal98, elginblt, annetteboardman, ScientistSteve

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:49:28 PM PST

  •  Beautifully done. (42+ / 0-)

    Growing up, racial prejudices simply didn't exist in my family.  I'm sure what made a difference was the Native American ancestry on my mother's side back to the Dawes Rolls. I think those attitudes freed my mind to relate to all experiences with others on the universally human level as I matured and my understanding continued to grow, up to the present.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:41:12 PM PST

  •  Bless them (51+ / 0-)

    for taking the time to care about a young man.  

    Thank you for sharing your (and their story).  You must have been special to get the kind of attention from them that you did.  I am sure treating them with dignity and respect was part of it.

    I am glad you had such great role models, who turned into honest friends.

    Thanks again, well told.

  •  I often think (56+ / 0-)

    about why I chose a different path from those around me.  I was reared by racists.  I guess I cannot blame them for their ignorance.

    But I often think of the things that made me think differently.

    I loved Muhammed Ali.  As much as my Mom hated him I adored him.  The more I learned about him the more I rooted for him.  Ali stood up against something he saw as wrong even though it brought him personal risk and trauma.  Ali spoke truth to power.

    You can only teach a child courage by example.  Ali was my first example.  After that I opened my mind to different people and became me.

    Occasionally life involves risk and courage.  Most of the time it just means appreciating others and recognizing the common thread that binds us each to the other.

    Be well.

    The business of Nations is never morality. Moral stories live only through people.

    by tecampbell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 01:03:56 AM PST

    •  My parents were racist, and so am I (21+ / 0-)

      They didn't think they were. For a while I didn't think I was. We lived across the cul-de-sac from an older "colored" family. We called them friends and they were, in the usual manner of sharing conversation, exchanging of food dishes and borrowing of tools, that neighbors do.

      But in private, the "n" word was used frequently. We kids knew that we were more than different -- we were better because our skin was light. We didn't think that was racism. This was early 70's so I'm sure it wasn't an uncommon situation for white kids of the time.

      Being taught to think "other" when seeing darker skin isn't something that goes away when you've been trained throughout childhood. I can meet any other obviously non-white person without it crossing my mind, but "This person is black" was, for a long time, a primary thought. Over the 30 years since leaving home it has waned, but I still catch my thoughts now and then.

      It's great that you had Ali. Kids today have many more role models, starting at the top (BO) so that's encouraging. Less negative models is key, though. If you were taught to be that way like me, just don't pass it on to the next generation.

      •  Your share took some guts. (17+ / 0-)

        But I'm not sure it was a universal norm in the early 70's to use the "n" word. If I had used that word I would have had a very, very serious sit-down with my father or grandfather, which in my family, means I would have been in big trouble. I wouldn't have been hit, because we didn't do that, but I would have a stern talking to.

        I don't think I ever heard a real live person use the "n" word until I moved to Texas in my early teens. I'm not saying it's not used in New England, but I certainly never heard it used by my parents, teacher, or their friends or mine.

        What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

        by commonmass on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:17:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Trying to say (9+ / 0-)

          it wasn't uncommon for white kids to be raised by otherwise good people who were, whether knowingly or not, racist. We understand racism better now. It isn't about specific words, it's about beliefs. My parents weren't bad people.  They simply learned it from their parents, who learned it from theirs, and so on. They considered themselves the opposite of racist because they had black friends, right?

          •  Intersestingly even in the 194os, My dad hated (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raincrow

            what he saw in his own southern neighborhoods and always detested racism..he found it all cruel and hateful even when all the adults around him were racist. I think becxause some kids were cruel to him because he was poor and did not have a dad.  

            Where I disagree iwth you, is I do not find any racist person to be a good person, as that racism reveals such hate, ignorance and nothing that I find to be good.  
            It is horrible in my eyes and I refuse to have any relationship with a racist and i have cut off friends who turned out to be bigots. But then again, this started as I got older and realized life is too short and I cannot be around that level of hate anymore if at all possible.

            Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

            by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:48:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  of a certain age, 80% of white people (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Contra

              have some racism.
              But 80% of White people of that era aren't "bad people".

              it's age dependant I find, very largely, as well as location dependant.

              With people say born before 1940 in the south I imagine finding one that has no racism would not be as easy as trying to be friends with people born in the 80s.

              •  good point, although we challenged our (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jplanner

                grandparents on their racism and called them out about it , we were more patient and did find more good in them than say a cousin who is now 50 and racist.  That we will not put up and seek to distance ourselves.

                Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                by wishingwell on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:15:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  But my dad stopped the cycle way back in the 40s (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raincrow, elginblt

            and 5os, he said he never bought the excuse of what we learned from our parents. Once we are adults, we can decide for ourselves to keep hating or open up our hearts and minds. He never would let himself or us use the example of doing something wrong just because our parents did. That did not fly with him and I am so very very happy he was that way.

            Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

            by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:50:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It was not the norm in the 70s at all, I never (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raincrow, Steve Canella

          even heard that word until I was in college and I was raised by a white father from the south. But it was taboo in our home and our neighborhood and schools in PA..absolutely and the 60s too.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:45:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that's your location my bet is, only (0+ / 0-)

            and or socioeconomic background

            I grew up same time period working class neighborhood in the Northeast. I heard it once from a drunk neighbor as a kid and a lot in college (mid 80s) from relatives of a friend who lived in the South.

            In certain circles in at least one area of Texas ten yrs ago at a bbq with all White people I heard the N word bandied about. And not everyone knew everyone and no one knew me. It SEEMED acceptable in that group. Just a snapshot though.

            •  We went to the south on vacations and spent a (0+ / 0-)

              lot of time there with cousins still there and we never heard the word, then. and it was a working class southern neighborhood. It could be we just got lucky in that regard.

              Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

              by wishingwell on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:17:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  or I not lucky. Though I've a friend from rural TX (0+ / 0-)

                who grew up with the N word all around (and she's only in her 30s). Her younger sister, only 27, says that she heard it as a kid an teen all the time and it turned her stomach.
                Surely it must be the circles one travels in. What we can say that it is more possible perhaps to encounter that word there. It was not an acceptable word where I am from...have talked to many people (I was in a discussion group about race and ethnicity at one point) no one 40s or younger remembered hearing it even as a kid except on very isolated instance.

                •  We grew up in Austin. I first heard it when I (0+ / 0-)

                  learned eenie-meenie-minie-mo, the n-word version from a brother who had learned it from a friend. I had no idea what it meant but when my dad heard us chanting it he told us what it meant and why we shouldn't say it. There was also the phrase 'n-word-rigged' which I heard used fairly often.
                  That would have been mid to late 60's.

        •  n word usage stops before racism goes away (0+ / 0-)

          70s in Mass--I heard no N word except maybe once by a drunk neighbor.

          Not acceptable to use it ever
          but plenty of racism under the surface

          n word is just most blatant and stark. I heard n word in 80s commonly with white friend's parents and grandparents from the south

      •  YIP, YIP!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, raincrow

        I preach the church without Christ, where the lame don't walk, the blind don't see and what's dead stays that way! Hazel Motes in "Wise Blood" (Flannery O'Connor)

        by chalatenango on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:39:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My dad was raised in the south in the 40s and 30s (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, Steve Canella

        where segregation and racism were the norm but yet he never was a racist and he always shunned that, he thinks because the people most important to him in his life that he looked up to where coaches and the preachers and those who were against segregation, the more well educated and informed around him.

        Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

        by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:44:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  it's instructive for you to have shared that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Contra

        because it explains the mentality of many white people especially or moreso over a certain age, and at least some of the resistance and deep hatred of Barack Obama.

        So many were instilled with that same kneejerk "other" reaction that you have. And I know in my bones that must be where the birther 'he's not one of us" stuff comes from. From subconcious as well as concious racism.

        So many on the right I've seen get angry...livid...whenver those on the left point out racism. I think some or even much of it is legitimate (ie not trumped up) anger because they CANNOT SEE THEIR OWN RACISM, unlike yourself. And I will admit me too. These people have subconcious racim but just do not realize it or see it so they think we are lying when we point it out.

        I wasn't raised to think Black people were inferior or better. Though certainly that attitude existed in the society I was born into in the mid-late 60s. I WAS raised though with the "other, not one of us" feelings.

        To this day, if a Black person (a random stranger) does something annoying, inconsiderate or stupid (such as jay walk in front of my car in a dangerous way--the first thing that sometmes flashes into my head is that they are Black.It does not happen with Asian or White people.

        I don't think this conciously. I don't believe it conciously. And I am very comfortable in the local Black community --more than some people I grew up with-nearby and when I know people even a little I dont' feel any racial judgements at all that I am aware of. I've had close friends (Black) that I"ve talked to about this. I feel sad because it just confirms to them how this country is.

        I talk myself down from it. That kind of racism is part of me and I have to conciously manage it. My bet though is that legions of White people over 40 don't kjnow they are racist so don't manage it.

        I wasn't around Black people until high school, wasn't in college and then was when I got out of school. I didn't grow up fighting racism in myself because I didn't know I had any--I didn't encounter Black people I didn't know only my Black friends and I don't feel it with people I kno. Maybe that' s why I never rooted it out while I was young so still have it. It's kind of wierd because I dont' have that knee jerk racist internal split second reaction unless someone does something that directly negatively impacts me (say pushes past me in a rude way). I dont react to public figures that way.

        It's very odd and it HAS to be common. It's interesting my parents told us that all peopl are equal and I know I thought that as a kid but I did absorb the 'other" thing (not one of us) some. I dont' feel the other thing as an adult at all...I feel (maybe due to my inner city location and socioeconomic level) more comfortable sometimes with immigrants and Black people than i do with many White people. But I must have also absorbed a negative view of Black people deep into my subconcious likely from society. I can't believe that MANY white people my age are not the same. I HATE IT when they deny it and deny that so much resistance to Obama is from his race. Those folks in Congress are OLD...average age is probably at least a decade older than I am.

        That Mitch McConnell of Kentucky--a generation older than I am--is not racist seems like a too big stretch of the imagination

    •  My dad was raised in the segregated south in the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tecampbell, raincrow, Steve Canella

      193os and 40s but he was never a racist.  He refused to go along with it, even then, despite pressure from white adults around him, including his own mother, He was that kind of person, always independent thinking and he never understood or approved of racism or segregation. It never made sense to him. He said he was dirt poor and so were his black neighbors. He did not have a dad and neither did his black friends.  But yet even in the slums, they were often segregated and could not play in the same parks or go the same schools. He found that outrageous even as a child.

      So it is not always environment as Dad always seemed to reject it even as a kid surrounded by racists.  He was always determined though to have a better life and be a dad that he never had and raise open minded, kind, compassionate children and give them a college education.  And he did all of that and more.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:42:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was also raised (42+ / 0-)

    by racists and resented and rejected their hatred. I have no idea why. It was never hard for me to see the individual behind the color or differences of any kind. I cried for 3 days when MLK was assassinated. I was 20 yrs old in college - home for spring break. They thought I was nuts. I've never been able to understand why I rejected the prejudice but I'm happy to say of the 5 children in the family, 4 have done so. Its all very interesting to me. Thank you for the beautiful diary.

    •  I was raised by racists, too. (22+ / 0-)

      And only a half-dozen years after schools were integrated in the South.

      I rejected racism then, and I reject it now.  I've done a fine job of it, too.  Except for the unconscious biases I discover I have.  When I find one, I do the work to get rid of it.

      The agony is discovering I have them at all.  I really just don't have good language to describe for you how deeply, deeply painful it is, to know I'm a racist and I can't just not be one by saying I'm not.  What I can do, and what I've done is not betray my own children's minds by making them racists, too.

      I'm sorry, all.  I don't know why I'm tripping over this so badly today.

      Lovely diary.  Thank you.

    •  Being raised by racists and not being one (9+ / 0-)

      yourself seems to me an example of what I've always believed, racism is a mental illness.

      Raised in a neighborhood where the only test for one's acceptance was the ability to run and play.  If you went outside and played you were accepted.

      The greatest challenge in our country is overcoming the mental illness of racism.
      "Serious" men spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year w/the sole purpose of keeping us divided by color, sex, religion, age, geography and any thing they can think of to keep us divided so they can steal our labor.  

      I didn't know that color or heritage was a dividing mark until I became a teenager and went to junior high school.  
      It wasn't till I was thirteen that I realized some people hate others because of their color or where they came from.  It was confusing.  I didn't understand it.  I think I do now, it is a mental illness encouraged by the wealthy to keep us from seeing how they are stealing from us.

      Distract us w/silly news reports they use to dominate the airwaves and tell us we are to see our neighbors as different.  

      The Koch's, Peterson's, de Vos', Walton's, Simmon's, Scaife's spend billions every year to keep us at one another instead of seeing how they are stealing from us.

      It's economics, that's why we're trained to hate anything and we fall for it.  How stupid are we.  The mentally ill Koch's, and their sick ilk are what we need to focus on.  

      •  My dad never let his mother off the hook about (4+ / 0-)

        racism..she would be well over a 100 years old if alive today and Dad would have been 84 and they were both raised in the segregated south where racism was the norm. But he rejected it and even in the 50s and 60s, he hammered away at Grandma and even allowed us kids to challenge her on her racism. He accepted no excuses for it and said Everyone is capable of change and opening their hearts...yes even my grandmother. He would not let her or any racists off the hook.

        Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

        by wishingwell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:54:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another reassuring comment that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, mikejay611, raincrow

          there are good people everywhere.  I liked reading your comment.  

          My Cub Scout leader was a black woman, Mrs. Neal.  I  felt safe and loved in her apartment.  I didn't realize it at the time, but my parents made a huge impact on me when they would have the Neal's over for dinner.  It was just a normal thing.  

    •  I was not raised by racists (5+ / 0-)

      However, being raised in a Christian cult just trades one set of biases for another.  I grew up with African Americans and latin people, but became biased against those that didn't share our beliefs.  In a way, my bigotry was socially acceptable.  That makes it harder to overcome in some ways.  I have sort of a class superiority mentality that I have tried to overcome.  For me it is judging people on perceived ignorance.  Over time this has mellowed as I learned to rebuild empathy and put myself in the shoes of others.  This has been a challenge specifically because I was raised to believe that I was part of some special group and that everyone else should listen to our wisdom.  Instead, I had to learn to listen even if I disagree.  Understanding brings insight which can destroy bigotry of all kinds.

  •  Excellent tribute, both words and actions. What a (30+ / 0-)

    difference knowing a person makes instead making judgements based on stereotypes.

    My mother (from a southern state) married my father (from a western state). None of the racially insensitive comments, or bigoted outlooks or stupid jokes I heard as a child came from my mother.  From her I learned that skin color and stereotypes are ridiculous reasons to judge somebody.  She taught me to think for myself, to "walk in other people's shoes" before judging them, and she also taught me to read--which enables me to learn from well written words like Grizzard's.  ;-)

    "In politics stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte

    by citylights on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 03:51:12 AM PST

  •  If more people (26+ / 0-)

    were like you and the Burns twins, perhaps the Tea Party craziness and the lies from Faux news would not exist. This country would be so much better off.

    I really applaud Tracy and Travis Burns. To embrace and mentor a young person of another race is admirable. I couldn't do it, not in Mississippi in the 1970s. We didn't trust white people that much. But at least we tolerated them; they, OTHO, never gave us that much credit.

    But I have to be honest and wonder if they mentored black boys in the same manner. Lawd knows we need them badly.

    •  This is a wonderful diary... (7+ / 0-)

      and I had very similar experiences with a young man named Daryl Macadoo.  He showed me the racism that surrounded me at home and at scholl was unfounded.  I have been thinking of writing a very similar diary regarding the tea party people.

      I believe in what Dr. King said as quoted above:

      Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
      -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      I believe that is what we must try to reunite this country again.  I know many good people who follow the tea party that are just misinformed and frieghtened into their rightwing beliefs.  The only way to stop this cycle is through love and understanding.  What many of these people are saying may be terrible but the people themselves are often caring, loving people.  We need to reach out to those people with love and understanding.  

      It may not be as satisfying as rubbing their nose in their ignorance but in the long run, we may end up eradicating some cultural hate by kindly showing them the err in their ways.

      "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

      by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 06:49:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please, Please understand (5+ / 0-)

      there's billions of dollars to be made in racism!

      Keeping us divided hides the true objective.

      The Koch's, the Peterson's, the de Vos', the Walton's, the Simmons' etc would have to give up their grip on the economy if there wasn't racism!!!

      I grew up white in the south Bronx.  I didn't know about hating people until I went to junior high school.  My friends and my parents friends were all colors and backgrounds and I never heard a bad word.  
      I was stunned the first time I heard the "n" word.  Didn't know what it meant.  I do now.  To me it means, don't like that person because if you are friends w/someone of another color you might understand how the wealthy are stealing from us and you might come together and take back what the wealthy have stolen.

      Racism, sexism, etc are  mental illness' which are transmitted and promoted by the wealthy to maintain power.

    •  I never had a black mentor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow

      as a white kid raised with a bunch of other mostly white kids, the only credit I can have with early diversity was a gay (white) boy who I became friends with. I don't even think I can credit him for anything... from an early age I always took a path that diverged from social norms. I chose the "outcast" groups to associate with in school, and I chose to befriend this gay boy because... probably because no one else wanted to be his friend.

      Where did it come from that I would reject racism? and homophobia? I can't point to any part of my upbringing, I can't point to my parents. I think I can only credit myself, that I have a capacity for empathy that I can literally feel for myself the kinds of social rejection marginalized groups of people feel.

      That I would embrace these feelings rather than turn against them... that is where I can credit where I came from. I am particularly, pointedly, non-religious, but I was raised on the true teachings of Jesus, of having love and empathy for others. As you do unto the least of these, you do unto me... I hate appealing to authority, but that one passage summarizes who I am better than anything.

  •  Wonderful story! (24+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting it. It made me wonder about why some of us grow up with and others without feelings of racism. I think I'm more without that with and I think my mother had a lot to do with that.

    Although not a Mormon, she was born and reared in Salt Lake City. She joined the Marines during WWII and worked in a typing pool in Washington. There they put her in charge of a group of black typists (yes, segregated). When she asked why, she was told that since she was from "out West" she was less likely to be prejudiced. I don't know if that was the reason, but she was probably the least prejudicial person I've ever known (unlike my Missouri-born father). When I got engaged to a Japanese woman, my mother simply asked me if I loved her and when I said yes, it was good enough for her.

    I've lived more than 30 years in Japan and I know the Japanese are people just like any other people and I'm sure the same goes for any other nationality or ethnic group. We're all the same when it comes down to the most basic and important aspects of life.

  •  Very cool diary. Thanks! (9+ / 0-)

    Perfect diary for MLK day. Made me teary in a good way. I totally get that one-to-one relationships are so important. We have to be willing to talk to others and open up to the potential of friendship and also mentorship.

  •  Wonderful essay, wonderful story (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much.

    And the poeple bowed and prayed To the neon god they made...

    by third Party please on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 06:49:55 AM PST

  •  I feel fortunate to have (11+ / 0-)

    grown up without racisim, too.  My husband, on the other hand, grew up in west Texas, in full blown racist mentality.  What is wonderful about him, he was open to accepting others for being people.  I took the time to teach him that there are bad people, but one bad person does not mean the entire race should be villified.  Stereotyping is the wrong way to go and he has learned the lesson.  Today, 21 years later, I am proud of the man he has become and the way he embraces all people and judges them not for the color of their skin, their gender, or their sexual orientation, but for the content of the character.  Thanks MLK, for teaching us that most valuable lesson.

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 07:26:07 AM PST

  •  Beautiful story. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Grizzard, Eyesbright, raincrow

    Thinking about my own upbringing, I have to admit that African American people were not a part of my life other than the short time a woman was hired to keep me when I was a pre-school child.  

    In North Carolina for the most part, the races lived separate lives, and very seldom crossed paths.  I never went to school K-12 with anyone who was African American.

    What I can say, is that my parents always taught me to treat "colored people", as they would have said it, with respect and dignity.  They would never have used the n word, and wouldn't have made racist remarks.

    Their teaching has stayed with me to escape some of the racism I occasionally see.  Thankfully, I don't see it often anymore.

  •  I'm putting your story in my (6+ / 0-)

    memory box.  When I read a story like this, it hits me right in the heart..
    From the beginning, your eyes bypassed skin color and went for the gold.   That says a lot about you.

    My father was anti-racial.  VERY.  Another's race, color or creed was part of that person and any negative, derogatory or hateful comment said more about the one speaking than the one the words were aimed at.  This is a special kind of stupid that's a tradition in some families. Each generation is hurting the next one.  To base coat their entire life in one color doesn't allow them to enjoy the rainbow.. sad.

    One of my sibling's friends made the HUGE mistake of spouting off about a black basketball player on TV, he had better be a good athlete since THOSE people weren't very intelligent.
    My father didn't say anything at first. He had THE LOOK.  
    All of us knew THE LOOK and knew it was a sign of things to come and they weren't going to be pleasant..

    This kid was standing on the track and never saw the train coming. He was enjoying his little racist self.
    My father was unique in the way he taught us life lessons..
    He looked at the kid and said, "Wow, you ARE smart. You can tell how smart someone is just by looking at them."  
    The kicker-dad knew all about this athlete.  If there was anything higher than his game score, it was his grades. He told this kid since HE was so smart, he must be an awesome athlete as well and just what sport DID he play?  BAH-ZING!  His eyes popped and his jaw dropped. The last thing he heard was my fathers STRONG warning.  If he came over again, , leave the attitude at home. No one disrespected others in his home.

    Did this kid learn and understand at least a little from this?  I can't say..  I like to think at the very least, a seed had been planted.
    And I hope he has a house full of color!

    I do benefits for all religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality. Bob Hope

    by bluebuckeyewmn on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 07:51:43 AM PST

  •  My racism (7+ / 0-)

    was less overt and more related to an inability to see white male privilege for what it was. I had a fortunate discussion with a close college friend, also a white male but slightly more enlightened, about affirmative action.

    During the course of the discussion, he convinced me of the pragmatic benefit of encouraging minority advancement for a multitude of reasons such as having role models in place to hopefully, at some point, balance out the inherent self-selection that tends to affect most if not all cultures and subgroups.

    A rather crude argument, but it flipped my opinion of affirmative action and more importantly 'cracked the shell' which allowed me to evaluate or society in, I hope, a way less programmed by my upbringing, which had fairly limited contact with non-white culture.

    •  just hearing a white male use the term (0+ / 0-)

      'white male privlege" is heartening. I somehow escaped life not even knowing about the notion of white privlege myself until (blush) the last five years. In my defense I think I understood it intuitively and acted that way.

  •  I grew up in South Carolina, and spent (7+ / 0-)

    many years living in one of those small towns whose high school played Darlington in the playoffs...We also had a private school that had started as a segregation academy, but by the late 90's it was struggling to stay open.

    Half the town was black, half was white. Most everything was socially segregated, churches, neighborhoods... This town and county had a very ugly history in race relations, as was the case in most of the Lowcountry towns of South Carolina with many plantations still dotting the landscape.

    The exceptions to the segregation were the public high school and little league sports, where I saw hope for the younger generation of kids, black and white, who hung out together, played together, they knew each other, they were friends. It all depended on whether or not they had been poisoned by their parents' and grandparents' bigotry. These older generations were hopelessly locked in the ancient evil caste system, taught to them by their ancestors, and reinforced to them every minute of their lives...Breaking out of these beliefs in one of these tiny Southern towns was and still is so hard, and such a huge accomplishment.

    Thank you for this story of hope!

  •  Absolutely wonderful diary. (6+ / 0-)

    As I sit here watching the President deliver his inaugural address.

    I'm lucky that my family, when I was growing up, were not bigots. That's a good thing, because I was a teenager before I ever met a person of color in the flesh. But when I moved from an all white, rural area in New England to Houston, Texas when I was entering High School, my family's example of accepting all people for who they are served me well. The racial and ethnic diversity I saw in my small, specialized performing and visual arts high school was exciting rather than scary to me. I can thank my parents and grandparents and great grandmother for that. I wish there were more people like my family and like you, Grizzard, in the world.

    On an interesting note, I am gay and my brother (who is also a Kossack--in fact is responsible for bringing me to the Daily Kos) has the great misfortune not to be gay but the great fortune to be married to a wonderful woman who happens to be African American. I am proud to say that no one in my family has raised an eyebrow about the way my brother and I choose to live and whom we choose to love. Instead, we're embraced.

    Bigotry and hate are such poison. Life is far more interesting when you can embrace and delight in the diversity of peoples and things on our blue planet.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:13:20 AM PST

  •  Beautiful story, that also brought me back. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lucy Montrose, Grizzard, raincrow

     I'm slightly older than you are (I would have been a freshman that year you describe) and from Rock Hill, although I went to Northwestern, on the wealthier, whiter side of town, and the part that most of the new residents moving to the Charlotte area from the north flocked to.  Rock Hill High School was out in the "country" and had most of the "black" areas.  Still, by raw numbers, both high schools were fairly "integrated."   The real segregation was self-segregation.

    My own parents were the type of "not racist, but not quite comfortable with black people" type that are still all too common.  They'd never say the n-word and would absolutely say the right things about equality and MLK and cheer for the black players on the football team and then go and deny the reality of white privilege and talk about "some people" needing to value education and hard work.  It took me a while to overcome that attitude and move on from that myself, which I wouldn't really do until I was getting ready to leave for college.

    Also, I hate to nitpick but - I think you're misremembering the football brackets slightly.  Rock Hill High would have been Big 16 then - the classification with the largest schools - and they wouldn't win their first state championship until I was already in college, in '02.

  •  Expanding (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing this story. I am struck at this object lesson in the expanding power of love. You are enlarged because the twins lived their principles. I think that is what gave you the strength to reflect and find your own truth. I am struck by:

    It's just way easier to adopt the proclivities of the authority figures around you when the alternative requires hard work.
    It's so risky to do, but the hard work is worth it, and it takes living the experience to get that. The example you took the trouble to write down here has expanded me, and I am grateful for your story and your reflection and your writing. I'm twice your age and am jealous of your early wisdom. One thing I've noticed is that I don't think people want to be racist, I think they just get used to it. I think people know it's wrong, but they are super afraid. The key seems not to yell and scream, but to to quell  fear through live example.
  •  Grizzard you said, (9+ / 0-)

    "They plod along through life with no understanding of how their hatred effects others."

    But as true as that is, I always think about how ignorant they are of how their hatred hurts them, their prospects for happiness and their prospects for success.  The self-limiting effects of racism and hatred are real.

    Affinities build on substantive foundations and ideals like the kind you described with your friends the twins are productive and healthy expressions of humanity unlike that of the shadow side of human beings driven by irrational fear and aggression.

  •  Thanks so much for this! You encourage me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grizzard, SoCalSal, raincrow

    ...to tell my own tale, one my heart has always wanted to tell.

    Dick Cheney: "Reagan proved deficits don't matter"
    Mitch McConnell: "There's no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue"

    by chmood on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:14:44 AM PST

  •  The perfect diary for this day. tippd recd tweetd (5+ / 0-)
  •  Wow, what a wonderful story, and told so very well (5+ / 0-)

    Privilege to read it.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:59:15 AM PST

  •  Thx for the diary (7+ / 0-)

    You were fortunate to have parents who set a decent example as you mentioned in a comment and that you made a conscious decision to step away from the attitudes of people around you. I wonder if the Burns twins had a similar experience -- a parent with a big heart and/or family/friends who led the way for them to be positive and influenced their generous spirits. Or, they made an awesome decision to choose a path different from what they observed in others. Whether it was one or both of these things, or something else, I'm happy you three found each other.

    "I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards any one." (Edith Cavell)

    by Southcoast Luna on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 11:26:21 AM PST

  •  That's the best thing I've read in a long time nm (5+ / 0-)

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 02:24:49 PM PST

  •  I enjoyed reading (5+ / 0-)

    this diary very much.  However, afterwards, I felt troubled that probably the most readily available avenue for you all to meet was through sports.

    I love sports but am concerned that many black youth feel that their most viable path into economic security is through sports (and entertainment).  These days you could also add the military.

    My reaction is partly spurred from taking a college class, decades ago, by Dr. Harry Edwards, whom felt even more strongly about the role of sports in diverting and distracting black folks.

    I always personally felt that integrated sports helped degrade racism, and you've provided an engaging example.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 02:50:20 PM PST

  •  That was a great story (6+ / 0-)

    told from the heart. What a fitting diary for a day when we celebrated the work and legacy of Dr. King and the inauguration of our first president of color to a second term.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 04:31:24 PM PST

  •  You're a fine human being... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, raincrow

    You took what you felt, not what you heard, and understood humanity. That takes a lot of guts. If only others would realize that we are all the same under the skin.
    Great diary. Thanks.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 05:37:30 PM PST

  •  My story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, jplanner

    I'm a straight white guy from Hudson County, NJ (RIGHT outside Manhattan; I can walk out the door as we speak & see the NYC skyline). 43 years old. Irish/Italian/Polish/Catholic background

    My parents sent me to Catholic school 2 miles down the road, even though we lived right around the corner from the local public school.

    One day, while in 1st grade or so, I repeated a joke a schoolmate told me & it contained the N word. My father, who only hit me once before that time and that was for mouthing off to a teacher & NEVER after that, turned to me and was FURIOUS. He basically told me "Don't EVER use that word. If you use that word, it just shows your OWN ignorance. Don't be so stupid" I guess I associated the word with stupidity & refrained from it.

    It turns out my dad was raised in the housing projects of Jersey City (as was my mom). Their friends were Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, and yes, African-American. It didn't matter what color you were. If you could play baseball, football, or basketball, you were OK & were accepted.

    I don't think that attitude ever left my parents. My dad calls himself a "conservative Republican" BUT his idea of "conservative" is Barry Goldwater (who he voted for in 1964). He voted for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush, BUT he also voted for Clinton & Obama & LOVES Hillary Clinton (he couldn't STAND Rmoney in 2012). In other words, a SANE Republican.

    My mom, by her own admission, hasn't voted for POTUS since JFK in 1960 BUT that was because he was the last Catholic to run. To her credit, she likes the Obamas VERY much.

    My point? I guess it all comes down to upbringing. My "conservative" (yet Clinton/Obama supporting) Catholic dad & my (Catholic BUT Obama supporting) mom taught me as much.

    A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

    by METAL TREK on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:58:26 PM PST

  •  My parents hid their vestigal racism from us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bontemps2012, Steve Canella, jplanner

    when we were children. I have no idea how or if they made a conscious decision to do so. Like an idiot, I let them die without asking them point-blank about it.

    My dad was raised in central Texas, joined the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor, and spent most of his career in southern California and DC. My mom was raised in New Orleans, married him just after the war, at age 18. I have to think that getting out of the South, at such a young age, and into the great diversity of SoCal, made the difference for them. Never did they utter a racist sentiment or racial epithet within my hearing, not even after I was grown; it simply was not their way. Nor did they teach me racial stereotyping. (Once I was in my 20s, my dad began allowing me to see his prejudices, and my mom revealed her belief that Jews completely controlled Hollywood and the banks.)

    So I was totally unprepared at 18 when my mom gave me The Talk the day before I went off to college. She told me to enjoy myself, meet new people, work hard, be careful, etc., etc., etc., bzzz bzzzz bzzzz.... [yeah yeah yeah mom]... whatever you do, do NOT bring a black man into this house."

    I felt like I'd been electrocuted. I laughed at her, then I saw her eyes, hard and fierce. I became angry, told her I could not believe what she was saying, and she assured me she meant it 100%. I tried to cajole her and she would not budge.

    THIS from the woman who had taught me that it is impossible to look another person in the eye, no matter their color or class or country, and not see that we are both human and exactly the same; and that this is why despots, slaveholders, ignorant Mississippi racists, etc., throughout history have punished and even killed "inferiors" who dared look them in the eye.

    THIS from the woman who, having moved away to young married life in late '40s SoCal, moved back to New Orleans while my Navy dad went off to sea duty, and spent a few months in an apartment her aunt rented for her, an apartment cleaned by a middle-aged black woman (whose name I cannot remember right now). One day, as the cleaning woman was eating lunch in the kitchen, my mom came in, made a sandwich, and sat down across the table from her. The woman jumped up from the table with such force that she knocked her chair over, looking around in fear to see if anyone else had seen what had happened, apologizing profusely for daring to sit at the table with a white lady. My mom stood up, too, apologizing just as profusely because living in SoCal with so many military people of all different kinds, she'd forgotten The Rules. She invited the woman to sit down so they could share a meal together like two sensible adult women, and so they did.

    I took up with a man of Scots and Lithuanian heritage, with long sun-bleached white-blond hair [shout out to ex#1 ;D]. My mom worked >20 years in a social services job with many black coworkers and managers, and grew out of her childhood inculcation (in her last years even morphed into a liberal Democrat, gawdamighty). That left my dad as the family holdout, so when my sister married a man with skin the color of Michelle Obama's, they hid their marriage from both families for 4 months. As it turned out, dying of cancer was teaching my dad what does and does not matter in life, he admitted as much to the not-quite-newlyweds, and welcomed his new son-in-law into the family.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:25:32 AM PST

    •  cool story. My parents somewhat similar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow

      they taught us purposely it seemed to be color blind and that all people were of equal value.
      yet when my sister went to her prom with an African American boy my dad had a conniption. They were just friends.

      I think when it comes to family (after all in my parent's day you're 18 and dating it might mean you would marry that person!) long imbeded feelings trump reason.

      I guess they had the instilled racism but conciously decided to overcome it. They intellectually knew what was right but fear overwhelemed them.

  •  You are 26 years old and your writing is full of (0+ / 0-)

    wisdom.  Not the kind that great people possess, but the wisdom of meticulous committment to self-awareness and an ever deeping reverance for everyday life with everyday people.  Your words are the treasure of this experience.  Keep writing about yourself and your observations, it is full of common grace.

Bob Johnson, paradox, OkieByAccident, Angie in WA State, Errol, KeithH, Sean Robertson, Chi, melo, teacherken, Gooserock, theboz, Emerson, MouseThatRoared, Debby, Shockwave, SanJoseLady, ltsply2, freelunch, WI Deadhead, TarheelDem, bethcf4p, TGos, bronte17, sfgb, boadicea, roses, samddobermann, denig, jalbert, Bill Roberts, Glinda, splashy, CocoaLove, Chrisfs, wader, Getreal1246, mwk, Eyesbright, MA Liberal, TiaRachel, johanus, duncanidaho, texasmom, HeyMikey, dwahzon, eodell, LucyTooners, inclusiveheart, FlyingToaster, nswalls, JayBat, AllisonInSeattle, zerelda, Sembtex, Steven D, Nova Land, eve, Wizznilliam, oortdust, Gowrie Gal, sb, SisTwo, yuriwho, LarisaW, Independent Musings, HudsonValleyMark, sap, ratzo, eru, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, pasadena beggar, nailmaker, rb608, minidriver, FindingMyVoice, Rogneid, Oye Sancho, CJnyc, Nowhere Man, third Party please, BachFan, kumaneko, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, myboo, Clytemnestra, tobendaro, profundo, pengiep, raincrow, blueoasis, tecampbell, global citizen, erratic, slothlax, mbdunn, CTLiberal, myrealname, MBNYC, bumbi, Texdude50, Temmoku, blueintheface, Nulwee, Aaa T Tudeattack, One Pissed Off Liberal, Habitat Vic, oklacoma dem, tgypsy, austropithicus, DvCM, mommyof3, davehouck, jedennis, strobusguy, uciguy30, theotherside, TomP, gizmo59, Mighty Ike, rogerdaddy, GAS, Sixty Something, NewDealer, lineatus, lavorare, tofumagoo, vernonbc, petulans, chalatenango, BlueStateRedhead, My Spin, DixieDishrag, Mad Season, Lucy Montrose, immigradvocate, WearyIdealist, enufisenuf, rhutcheson, lissablack, CA coastsider, Leftleaner, prettygirlxoxoxo, emboyo, ebrann, virginwoolf, elziax, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Keith Pickering, DoggiesWatches, jfromga, Livvy5, Former Chicagoan Now Angeleno, America Jones, susan in sc, commonmass, NoOnGluten, awesumtenor, CS11, leftist vegetarian patriot, gulfgal98, samanthab, elginblt, anonevent, Yasuragi, Patate, petesmom, Oh Mary Oh, rasfrome, theKgirls, VitaminD, harchickgirl1, kerflooey, ladywithafan, kamrom, pb3550, Tommye, slowbutsure, jardin32, hooktool, cv lurking gf, La Gitane, mikejay611, OhioNatureMom, lillyspad, marleycat, Lorikeet, akmk, midnight lurker, tardis10, Grandma Susie, MRA NY, rexymeteorite, volleyboy1, sound of progress, Imhotepsings, stevie avebury, rlk, blue aardvark, SoCalSal, blackjackal, zenox, dawnspantry, MichaelNY, Laurel in CA, chmood, gnostradamus, anodnhajo, sow hat, Flying Goat, coolelegans, Siri, EclecticCrafter, ahumbleopinion, SilverWillow, AnnieR, a2nite, JGibson, CA ridebalanced, peachcreek, radical simplicity, Arahahex, pdxteacher, parakeet, Noddy, Robynhood too, Stills, Steve Canella, Lily O Lady, Chaddiwicker, nomandates, ranton, The grouch, argomd, glorificus, YoungArizonaLiberal, Southcoast Luna, dkw, aresea, GwenM, PragmaticDem, Ree Zen, AguaEcon, nasheval, Jollie Ollie Orange, sweetsister, mindara, howabout, Icicle68, starfu, ModenaMerican, blue91, The Beet, Friend in Miami, northcountry21st, Gardener in PA, Kimba, WithHoney, footNmouth, Pistoche, Chas 981, citylights

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site