Friday, June 12, 2009


I woke up this morning to a message on Facebook, from someone that I grew up with 30 years ago. This invoked a lot of memories, that have been stirring in my subconscious all day long. My friend, Patty informed me that she had named one of her daughters after me, and wondered if her daughter would ever meet her namesake. Patty's two daughters have children of their own, and Patty is a grandmother. I told her about Mark, and that I started late, just as my parents did, and how honored I was that she would name her child after me.

The ironic thing is that I had been thinking about my childhood a lot this week due to the tragic event at the Holocaust Museum, which is just 20 miles from my home. A man went into the museum and shot and killed a guard for no other reason than hate. I have been to that museum and would have never thought that someone would even think of commiting such a vile act. I cannot understand how someone who is educated and was accepted into Mensa, could remain intelletually ignorant for 88 years. The hatred of the act is what made me think of growing up, because those were times of racial hatred.

Where we grew up in New York, we were in the minority therefore we were not a threat. I grew up in a "White" environment, and we seemed to all get along. It was clear that I along with my sibblings had assimilated just fine. The reality set in when I was 17, and my parent's decided to move to rural Virginia, to retire. My mother's family owned several acres of land in Rice, Virginia which is close to Farmville, Virginia which has a history of its own, and it is known around the world. After growing up in a White environment, and then trying to assimiliate into a Black enviroment, is a story all by itself. It would have been no different than a "White" person trying to fit into a "Black" environment in the south. We had cousins that lived about 25 miles from us in New York who were also assimilated were like us.

At 17, when we moved to Farmville, Virginia, we were baptised into a world of racism that had been unknonw to us in New York. The history of Farmville leaves a lot to be desired. Farmville closed its schools to the "Colored Children" in 1959 for 5 years. My mother's sister, Dorothy, was a teacher in Farmville, and subsequently had moved to Maryland when the schools closed to find a new teaching job.

The school system that I went to in 1979, at age 17, was inferior to the school system that I came from in New York. If someone had told me what it was like for so many of the children who came from parents without even high school degrees, I would have not believed them. I was upset with my parents for a long time, that we moved when we did. I look at it now as a gift. You cannot imagine what life is like for so many people, unless you see if for yourself. A large number of students that I went to school with had parents who could barely read or write and had no idea of the value of education. The school system at that time was still divided due to the fact that many academies exist in the south, and these academies consist of mainly of 'White" children. Although we are told we have come a long way, Blacks in America have a long way to go. Academic testing proves that point. Unless we as a people come to feel that we are truly equal, and as worthy as any culture, then we will perish.

1 comment:

Mike and Mike said...

Racism and bigotry have always baffled me. But this is not to say that I am not guilty of such sins. I have found myself caught up in a mob mentality as well as been a victim to the rage that exists from those being discriminated against.

Education is really the only weapon to combat bigotry and racism. But education can only win when it's allowed to and not already be shackled by such prejudices. But in order to do that, well, that's a challenge in and of itself.

My mantra to combat my own distasteful preconceptions is simple:
"An asshole, is an asshole, is an asshole no matter what creed or color."

Mike A