Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What A Week!

I have been looking back over the events of this week and my heart is very full...

The elections have come and gone and we have a new president-elect, Barak Obama. Although I have had my differences with him politically, I believe that he is a decent man and will do his best. God bless and help him in these troubled times. The fact that he is our first African-American president has not been lost on me, either...

As many of you know, I partially grew up in the segregated South. I was very, very fortunate, because both of my parents believed deeply in the Civil Rights Movement. They raised me to look at people of color as being of equal worth to whites. They took advantage of teaching moments to get across to me the foolishness of prejudice.

One such moment came when I returned home from First Grade with a new word. I had learned it in a little rhyme from the other kids. Remember, "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe"? My sister and I always followed that with, "Catch a turtle by the toe. If he hollers, let him go. Eeny, meeny, miny moe." The new version I learned didn't say, "Catch a turtle by the toe". It said, "Catch a n****r by the toe." I had never heard that word before and figured it was just another way of saying "turtle". So, I sing-songed that rhyme with my new little word all over the place...until, I got home.

When my mother and father heard it, they sat me down. I was only 5, but I remember very clearly what my father said. He said that "n****r" was a mean way of saying "negro" and that "negro" came from a Latin word which meant "black". That's what they are, black; not "colored", or "darkies" or "n****r". Then he held up his arm and grasped some flesh between his thumb and index finger, to show me his skin. He said that skin pigment was to protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun. People who come from very sunny, hot places have more pigment than people like us, where our ancestors came from cloudy, cold places. That's all the difference is, he said, pigmentation. Skin.

I took it for granted that my parents were wise and would never behave in an ignorant manner towards another person. It wasn't until I was an adult, living far away from home, that I realized how fortunate I was to have the parents that I did. Knowing where they came from, and how many other members of our family felt, it was a miracle that both of my parents were so enlightened about race issues.

Years later, we moved back to the South. First we were in Memphis, just after Dr. King was shot there and later, back home in NC. It was in Wilmington that I experienced bussing for the first time. We had terrible riots that were on the national news. I saw the worst of both sides, the R.O.W.Ps (Rights of White People - similar to KKK) and the Black Panthers. Both spewed hate and vengeance. All the while, I sat side-by-side with my black classmates and we got on fine. In fact, I had my first crush on a boy who sat across from me in Art Class. He was a senior, while I was a softmore. He knew I liked him (while I was kind of clueless) and was extremely kind to me. His name was Isaac. I think he may have even liked me, but neither of us would have dared something like that in those days. The world around us was way too violent.

On issues of race, in those days, I hoped for peace...The possibility of one day having a black president was nowhere in the realms of what I could see.

Fast-forward to today...We have a young, black president. All politics aside, I can hardly believe my eyes. What a blessing and a miracle to have an election where other issues, such as the economy, are more important that the skin color of the candidates. I am happy for my African-American brothers and sisters. I am happy for myself. I am happy for those I've loved, like Isaac, who can tell their children that they can grow up to be anybody and it will be true.

Have a wonderful Sabbath!
Elizabeth

5 comments:

3 Docs and A Diva said...

Wow what an awesome post!
Our 2nd son went to Optometry school in Memphis:) How is that for really taking you back to your roots??? Kind of amazing our kids are taking us to your places and memories of growing up.
I too had a friend in High school in Pocatello, Idaho by the name of Issac. We were just friends.
I hope you got my email this time... I have a full Souix Indian sister my parents adopted when she was almost three. I LOVE the story of your dad telling you about the pigmentation adn the sun.
She is the same age as my sister who lives with me is is a decade younger than I. She is awesome and I love her with all of my heart. She graduated from the Y and served a mission in Brazil.
My dad used to say Heavenly Father just left her in the oven a little longer. They are 8 months apart.
I am glad you know my identity. Also for the sake of your hometeacher when he talks to family, Jack and Ilse who also adopted three biracial children before they ahd their own with Michael being their oldest!:)
Our minds were really thinking a like with that quote. did you re read Elder Hales talk?

Have a wonderful Sabbath!
With hopes of many blessings,
Cher or you know (B)

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

How wonderful of your parents to explain so fully by talking about the origins of the word and the biological reasons for darker skin color. You really were blessed to have parents like that.

This was a wonderful post. Thank you for speaking up for the need for all of us to work together. As you know, I was (and am) an Obama supporter, but I know that he's just a man. He will need all of our help to get this country back on its feet.

beth at aunties said...

Thanks for the email! What a crazy and busy Sunday today ahs been. My comments ahrdly make sense. Sorry.
Please visit our son and his bride on A blog. Our new soon to be DIL comes from a wonderful family, her father is in their Stake Presidency and her mom teaches early morning seminary. They are getting married in the Salt Lake Temple:) She graduated from BYU as an RN, then got her masters in Midwifery from George Washington University. He graduated from the U will is graduating from VCU’s Dental School in May. Also in the 1st email I said I must have always loved your name:) Would the 1st email still be in your spam file?

beth at aunties said...

I hope this Monday is going great for you! I am finally making head way in finding addresses:)
Just was thinking about you...

the pleasures of homemaking said...

What a wonderful post! How funny, but I remember that particular rhyme to this day - it affected me deeply I guess!

Thanks for stopping by - I thought I'd have time to send you the recipe today but it doesn't look like it. I'll shoot for tomorrow
:-)
Manuela