Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another world, another time. Or is it?

I'm reading again. One of my favorite things to do to take me out of my own life and in to someone else's. I'm currently reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It takes place in the 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi, and it's about the differences in race and lifestyle.

It's an amazing read.

Growing up in a predominantly white place, I guess I never really thought people were still racist. Other than my great grandmother, who still referred to black people as 'coloreds" in her old age, and who we shamefully shyster when she did, I was always taught that race didn't matter, and never gave it much more thought. But when I got married and moved to Georgia, I was quickly slapped in to a reality where there was still so much pain from the past and fear of what was different, namely the color of your skin.

I encountered many judging looks and poor attitudes from some of the black women in the doth. I didn't understand it at the time, and I felt that they were wrong for judging me as a white woman. When we moved to Alaska, I began to notice more how white people spoke disdainfully of black people, even referring to MLK Jr's birthday as "Nigger Day". I found it disgusting.

When we moved back to Savannah, Georgia, I enrolled my preschool aged sons in a family run daycare. On enrollment day, they told me that my kids were the only white children there, as if that would make me suddenly change my mind. Instead, it reinforced my decision to send them there. When would my two white sons ever know what it was like to be a minority? I loved that school, and the family that ran it. They took extra time with my eldest son, as his Aspergers Syndrome was just starting to become apparent.

Finally one night, Gavin asked me why his friend Jamaal had brown skin and he had pink skin? I told my five year old boy that it was the same as him having red hair and me having blond, or him having blue eyes and his daddy having brown. God makes us in many colors so that the world is as colorful as a painting.

My boy is now eleven and I look forward to the day he gets married, so we can add some pretty colors to our family. I am proud that my children don't see color as a race. Especially after having the unpleasant acquaintance of a woman from Jackson, MS, and hearing how she couldn't voted for a black man for President even though her own children were half Puerto Rican, and how she had only married their father because she became pregnant put of wedlock. How horrible a day when her own kids realize they are worth less to their own mother because they aren't fully white?

I don't know what my point was in sharing these thoughts today, other than hoping that people will learn from their mistakes from the past. It's the socially acceptable thing now to hate Muslims, and even as the wife of a soldier, I am sickened by the hate and fear that people still let excuse their bad behavior because it's politically correct.

Next time you want to nervously eye someone of a different race, make the change within yourself and do what is right. I know far worse people of my own race than anyone I've ever met of a different one.


  1. "Next time you want to nervously eye someone of a different race, make the change within yourself and do what is right. I know far worse people of my own race than anyone I've ever met of a different one."

    So well said!!!

  2. Spot on! I've spent a lot of time in deep Mississippi and sadly that book could be written about life there today and be completely relevant.

  3. "God makes us in many colors so that the world is as colorful as a painting."

    What a beautiful way to look at it. I am so proud of you and the example you put forth to your children. I, too, was raised in an area where racism was almost never an issue, and then was thrown into the south due to the military, and was just shocked by everyone's attitude towards difference in race. And it makes me feel even worse that sometimes it's assumed that because I'm Caucasian, I must automatically hate African Americans.

    I don't tolerate racism for a minute, and have immediately dropped friends whom I've made here if it's shown that they are. I even automatically blush when I hear "nigger", and refuse to even say that word, even if the correct definition is used. We all bleed the same, and in my eyes, that makes us the same. I love your way of wording it though.

  4. It's Val:

    I love that book! It's now a favorite. "The Help" shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of black help in the 60's. At the end of the day, people are people, and sometimes there are very few things that seperate us from one another.

    I hope my kids get to be around multiple races, unlike we did. Although, one thing about our school that was different, was it seemed that if you were a minority, it made you popular... at least in my class.

    You remind me of a strong, black woman!

  5. I just bought the book and am excited to read. I love this post, great job! Growing up in Utah you'd think that racism would be ever where and that there really wouldn't be ANY minorities, but there ARE and racism is actually fairly non existent.. and I truly don't believe it's because people keep it to themselves. After living in the south, I realize what REAL racism is... I am looked at oddly or treated poorly because I'm white when around some black people, and I've also met plenty of white people that use the 'N' word in their everyday vocabulary... it was a SHOCK to say the least... I didn't grow up only around white people, thankfully, and I also didn't grow up around others putting each other down for their race... though you'd think different coming from lil ol' Utah. Thanks for sharing and letting me share back!! xo