I am from New York or Newwww Yawk. I love diversity and all types of people.
I hate racism. Again, I abhor racism.
The photo above is what happened. Being 51, I have just about heard everything there is to hear. I have never been to Missouri. Even if given the chance, I will avoid it.
I have viewed my share. I shudder at all the stupid snapshots in my mind and heart memories of racial tensions and wars.
Why and what for are the words that come to mind.
But here is a story I have never told. I was 7 and just back from uhhh “science camp school” where I spent the first part of my second grade year with my Dad the engineer. He was on assignment and brought me along. It was November 1970 and I walked into the room and there was my first African American teacher. I just stopped because that was when the busing started in the 1970s. Yes, I just wrote the 1970s. There are people who are older than me.
It was 1970 around Christmas.
Ms. A. had a principal who was from Alabama and well, I am not going to second guess even as an adult how the hostility made it very hard to do her job. I will as a professionally trained person hypothesize that hostility made it very hard for her to teach US.
It set the mood. One side, the Alabama principal, Mr. E., was old school this is how it is done and I have been ordered to put up with this lady who is different than me. He was southern white and made you know it. And Alabama wood shed old southern boy was the way he did things. He viewed her as very inferior and maybe even as an ape.
Remember I was only 7 years old, not even 8 yet. I could see that she was a gentle soul and was very overwhelmed. She was nervous all the time. Some parents and kids didn’t want her there and shrugged that she was there. There were few if no black teachers YET. Our public school was new and so was the neighborhood built by poor construction people from Missisippi and Alabama and Georgia. Some of the neighborhood kids I no longer see could not get used to her and used the N word.
We grew up in a suburb of Tampa, Florida. Tampa had Catholic and Spanish and Italian Ybor City, a very progressive area, but the outlaying areas were still hostile to Catholics, Jews and transplants from New Yawk like me. My parents saw people shake their heads and say “You money is good, but you all are strange strange strange.” Or “why don’t you go live with those Iiiii tall ians in Ybor City?” Or they rolled their eyes at us because they liked the job and the money it brought. Or they gave us a cheesey “bless y’alls heart smile”.
Remember I was only 7 years old. I am still ultra observant. My big eyes could see that we got caught in the middle. A friend of my parent’s son had trouble reading at the end of the year. Remember this African American teacher lady was ALWAYS NERVOUS. She was being professionally cut from the top and the back.
And both sides were nervous: Mr. E and Mrs. A, the black lady. I still shudder to remember how she would shake in front of class. There was no violence but the violence was done to both sides and two souls. My now friends , then children, still shudder to think what stereotypes and hate do to people. Tell ya what I almost remember a few of us making a pledge to be always friends and not mean like the grownups who were racists.
Folks: we got caught in the middle. Some of those kids I did hang around ARE STILL MY friends. The school secretary was just as mean as the principal. Both gave the impression of white old school world.
Remember they the kids in the class were 7 like me. I remember two mean ones. I won’t say what happened to these kids. And I am still friends with the other 15 kids who are now adults with their own families. We go “way back”. I hope our being friends just makes it obvious that even though we got caught in the middle, our eyes are open to how some people do not accept others.
I would like to think or hope that we did. I would like to hope that when justice won out and this principal was fired, we stayed friends in a changing time. We have been hanging tough since 1971. I went on to private school and they stayed in public. But we stayed friends.
My second grade teacher showed up around eighth or ninth grade. She was in the middle of a civil suit against the local school district. So, she knocked on my door. Blame went high for how awful this principal had shook her up so bad that she was unable to do what she was hired to do. I told her I supported her against mean people. I hope I gave her hope.
In Racial wars = no one wins ever. And we the transplanted kids ended up caught in the middle of all the hostility. Our learning suffered in many ways. And nothing gets done. People get sidetracked and nothing gets done – ever. And we who are all friends now got caught in the middle and never really got to know why the then grownups are or were the way they are or why they ended up being so mean.
I am still shaking my head because I shudder to think what would have happened if these people in Ferguson would just do the right thing and arrest this cop and put the whole thing on trial. Maybe even move the trial.
Just do it folks. Something has to give here.
No young man should have to die this way — ever. He should have never been shot at all. There are too many Nazi types in the middle of this country. I pray he didn’t die in vain. These cops like the one in Florida who shot that man in a theater are too bleeping gun happy.
It is time to do something about this and say when. I am still shuddering.