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Welcome, everyone! Here's where I blather about writing, life with my wife BA, and my two basset hounds! I love to hear from readers, so comment here or email me!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Putting the human face on civil rights

When my niece was just a baby, her parents moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina. She wasn't quite 2, if I remember, and thanks to a rather small-town in PA with a rather big time habit of not renting or selling homes to people of color, D had never seen a black person until she went down south.

The first black person she met up close and personal was my Aunt L's dear friend, Jessie Mae. At the time, Jessie Mae was 80, and while old, was neither weak, small or frail. She was the grandaughter of former slaves, a field worker her whole life, who in 1987 still had no running water or electricity. She was 6'2", weighed over 220 and had a voice like a freight train whistle. She scared my baby niece to death, and her momma was all aflutter, worried that Jessie Mae would be offended.

Jessie Mae's answer was, "You let that baby alone. She'll figure it out. I gots (she always said gots) to be scary to that child, the way I look, but she'll she how much I love her."

She was right. D finally got real brave and let Jessie Mae hold her against that enormous bosom that had comforted me and my brother for as long as we could remember, and that was that. D fell asleep. Boom.

Children learn that there's nothing to fear pretty quickly as long as people are good to them.

We could all learn something from that. Instead of mongering fear, we could all try to do better by each other. Remember that I'm not a number, or a statistic, or a sinner. (Sorry folks, one more person tells me they can hate my sin and love me and I'll lose it). I'm a person. A human. So are you. We don't have to agree, but we can at least admit we should all get the same start in life. A level playing ground.



1 comment:

Katherine Halle said...

Oh wow, what a great story! Thanks so much for sharing it!