Who are we underneath?

I don’t know about anyone else but each day feels strange. A bit unsettled, maybe precarious and shaky, yet I look for the things that give me comfort – my beautiful plants, how funny and cute my grandson is, fighting the summer heat in my cool above ground pool, listening to all kinds of music, watching and reading about space travel, and sewing/quilting.

But thoughts come seeping in.

Matthew 7:12 New International Version (NIV). 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…

Who will we be in a year? Who do we want to be? I hope and pray I will be a loving and accepting person who emulates Jesus and the way he treated everyone with love. I want to see the institutionalized racism in effect since the civil war eradicated. This can only be done by people who see it for what it is, and accept nothing more than equality. It may take a few generations for this to truly happen, with the federal and state governments eliminating the use of “redlines” around undesirable neighborhoods based on the racial makeup to reduce the property value and tax based for infrastructure to discourage improvements and developments.

Whether your name is Todd or Shaquille, your college application should be viewed with equality not whether your name sounds black or white. There is no place for a biased perception where educating our youth is concerned. All youth. 

 As far as I know, there were no slave owners in my family, however I grew up with a grandfather who was a racial bigot and saw no wrong in it. He believed as many from his generation and the generation before him that _____(and he used the N word) couldn’t take care of themselves, that they were like dumb little children you had to look after. He saw no harm in the word, and laughed when I told him I would rather he said “colored” than that word. He was once asked what he would do when he got to heaven and blacks were there? “God wouldn’t do that to me,” was his response. I loved him, but I disagreed with him completely, and didn’t shy away from telling him so which got me in trouble.

The picture below shows the truth. There is not a white or black arm there, but beautiful shades of flesh. Take away that covering and you could not tell the difference. This is how we need to look at people. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It goes for everyone, every human. 

Comments are always welcome.

“Come on people now,

smile on your brother,

everybody get together,

try to love one another right now.”

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

Thinking

I have so many conflicting feelings about race and refugees. I have traveled a lot, not as much as I want, and I have experienced different races and cultures. This was good for me and it helped me be accepting and open to humans who were different from me.

When I was very small we were stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. It is the first place I remember clearly as a home. Earlier memories are only of scenes and senses. Anyway, we lived in a trailer park on the base that was filled with other military families. I remember Sam Guthrie and Lynette Singletary, but my best friend was Karen Tucker. The four of us played together and followed the big kids around. Our father’s were in the same squadron and worked together.

We caught lots of horny toads and road bikes and built forts.

Karen’s mother was Rachel and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Karen and I would watch her paint her long nails and put on her makeup. Karen’s mom and dad went out a lot to the base clubs. My folks were more likely to get together with friends and play cards or dominoes. I also remember that her parents would have some real good fights and when that happened she would come over to my house.

Once while I was hanging out with Karen I asked her mother to iron my hair the way she did Karen’s. Her mother tried to explain that my hair was different from Karen’s and it wouldn’t work. I was quite disappointed because Karen’s hair was so shiny, smooth and perfect.

At the end of my third grade year the whole squadron was transferred to Tucson, Arizona. When that happened we were all separated and scattered around town. I didn’t see any of them for many years. When I was in the sixth grade my mom said we were going to visit with the Tucker’s. I was so excited and ready to see how everyone was.

As we drove to their house I was a bit surprised where we were going. Tucson, like most towns, have areas that are predominately one ethnic group or another. In this case we were heading into an area that had a large African American population. When we got arrived and walked to the door we were met by someone I did not recognize.

Karen Tucker was black. I did not know.

In all of my memories, even now she isn’t distinguished this way in my mind. We were all the same. But when we moved from our small, insulated community on the base to a much larger town, we became what was expected of us in the mid 1960’s. It was shocking and suddenly it seemed Karen and I could no longer be friends. Even though we sat together and walked around the house the bond between us was broken, irretrievably. I was sad when we left and we never saw them again.

I would love it if I could find her.

Children are not born hating, they are taught this. My heart is sad that race and culture is at the heart of most of the world’s conflict, when these things should be cherished and given the chance to enhance our lives.

Adieu.

-N

Travel, it’s good for you

One of my favorite programs is Rick Steves travel programs. His experiences and the way he gets involved with locals is right up my alley. My father was in the Air Force and we were fortunate to be able to travel to Japan and the Philippines. My husband and I have also visited Mexico, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Lesser Antilles. I love to go places I have never been before.

One of the things we do when we travel in the US is to take along our National Parks Passport.  It is very cool and has introduced is to sites we would never have tried or in some cases even known about. It is cool because you visit one of the places-a national park, monument, historic site, etc., listed in the passport. At the visitor center you will find a station where you can get a dated endorsement stamp for that location and a special sticker for your passport. It cracks me up to see little humans clutching their books and racing each other to the station. I think I would be a great host for a TV program featuring the passport program. Just saying.

When I travel one of the best things to do is find a local and make friends and then you find out the really great places to have the best food and drinks, the place to mingle with the people who live there and know what the travel people don’t.  You end up having the most amazing and rewarding experience. Off the beaten path is the way to go.

Another important aspect to going local is you begin to understand the differences in culture and perspective and you can reveal yourself as well. Communication is accomplished without prejudice and judgment. Just how it should be.

We are humans, and underneath the color of our skin we are the same. No debate, no question and no argument. We are made the same with the color of our skin and shape of our eyes is based on where our ancestors came from.

For several years I worked at the University of Arizona in the athletic department. I made friends with so many athletes and it was so fun to understand them as they opened up to me. One of the African American athletes was an especially good friend. I saw him nearly everyday. We would laugh and share and we hugged when they won or lost. Once he was a passenger on a motorcycle when he brushed his leg against the muffler. He had a nasty burn that took a while to heal. At one point the scab was nearly off and the skin underneath was whiter than mine had ever been. I laughed and told him he was a latent white person! Gosh we laughed about that. When I heard many years later he had died from diabetes complications my heart broke.

I guess what I am trying to say is everything is skin deep. That is as deep as our differences should ever go.

Traveling is a great way to expose yourself to the myriad of ways we humans are the same. Our differences are because of what we are taught. There is a song in the musical “South Pacific” which says it better than I every could.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT by Rodgers and Hamerstein

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

-N