The ways in which I was introduced to race and racism in my life have been interesting. It’s actually one of those things that I can remember in detail, well, more detail than I do other things. The only reason I can give is from a very early age I remember feeling those “injustice” feelings. I have talked in other posts about this, as it related to child abuse.
My dad was born in Morocco, Africa. He is considered “white” although I got my olive skin, dark hair and eyes from him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know many details of his adoption. Basically, he was adopted by my Grandfather Drew and his wife when he was a toddler. He has mentioned that possibly his birth parents were French because he was speaking a little French. But he was being taken care of by nuns there and that is a common language there. My Grandfather was an ambassador for the US and so my dad and his younger sister Eileen spent several of their formative years living in Africa.
When my dad would tell me about his childhood experiences in Ghana, and Africa in general, I was fascinated. I had been born in South Carolina, lived in Alabama and TN. I had traveled to Oregon to visit my Grandfather and possibly been to Florida, but other than that the deep South is all I knew (know).
When I was around 8 or 9 years old my dad had a friend from Africa stay for a visit at our home. I wish I could spell his last name, but I know his first name was Sunday. He was very memorable to me because, first of all, he had the darkest skin I had ever seen in my whole life. He was almost shiny. And he had this weird accent. You know, nothing like we have here in East Tennessee.
Here is what I remember the most about Sunday, his kindness. He was like 7 ft tall (maybe not) but he would crouch down and look in my eyes and he brought me a gift. It was a rock. Did you get that? Yeah, a rock with little eyes and mouth decorated on it. I loved it. I named the rock Friday. For years I would tell people “I named him Friday, because a man named Sunday gave him to me on a Saturday.”
That was one of my great experiences with people who didn’t look like me. But unfortunately, my mom’s dad (Papaw) whom I spent a lot of time with, would use derogatory names for people of other races and would categorize people by how they looked and not who they were as people. It made me livid as a teenager. I even wrote an article in my school paper about Civil Rights and MLK Jr. (I’ll post it if I ever find it in my garage.)
Now that I am older, my Papaw passed away almost 9 years ago, I can understand that he was really just saying what had been said in front of him. He had been formed by those negative thoughts and words he had heard his whole young life.
I don’t think people really get what Martin Luther King Jr. did. Yes, he was a Reverend. But the power that was his, the opportunities, trials and achievements that came to him were from the same God that we have access to today. Dr. King was able to change so much for our country. He had the right ideas, he had the passion, he had the determination. But he would not have had the success that he had without God being in it.
I challenge you to read I Have a Dream to your children. Read it to yourself. And take time to thank God for using Dr. King to get His message across. God is love. We don’t have to be color-blind. We only need to recognize the color of the Blood. Without it, we are all the same.
Because you say. ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…