“Humanity…we need to talk”
“This is the wood from the giant persimmon tree that lived in my grandparents front yard. A friend and I are about to make a couple of desks from it. Seems like a fitting tribute to a couple of educators, that influenced not only me, but thousands of other children over their forty plus years of teaching…”
What I’ve come here to express today is relevant to the circumstances that exist across this nation. The word “Racism” is being said and published at an epic rate relative to the past couple of decades. It reminds me of the 70’s living in Little Rock, Arkansas. How many of the angered blacks of today, recall that period of time? In 1957, nine black students made a historic stand for their right to attend an all white public school there, as a result of their efforts and the impending legal struggle to comply with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. The Board of Education. The entire Little Rock School District was ordered by the court to implement a desegregation program in 1973. This mandated black children to be bussed to predominantly white schools, and white children bussed to predominantly black schools. The nature of the violence that erupted from this ruling was terrible. We were being told things by our parents, that simply we’re based in truths, just as black children were being deceived by their parents to ideals about whites, that were fictional accounts. Our parents didn’t know the similarities between the humans embroiled in this racial conflict, and the children couldn’t identify the differences proposed by our parents.
In September of that year, we moved to West Memphis for my Dad’s work. Having no assumed perception of what it would be like, I was prepared for more of what was happening in Little Rock. The schools in West Memphis were already integrated, and the ratio was nearly 50/50. There were a couple of private schools for the white families that didn’t approve of intigration, but they only offered grades 1-6. That meant beginning in the 7th grade, all the kids were intigrated. This allowed me to identify and acclimate with the cultural differences in the two colors of skin. I made friends, played sports with, accepted them for what they offered as humans, not what my past had suggested as a race. There was no racial violence fostered from within. In the subsequent 6 1/2 years of attending school there, I can only recall one solitary incident, where race decided the sides. It never evolved beyond a bunch of posturing by hormonal males.
Ask me what I believe was the significant differences between these two situations? Engagement fostered by normal life circumstances. We didn’t live in the same neighborhoods, so the engagement was limited to school, but it wasn’t divided because of that aspect either. What I saw was a different culture than the one I was raised in, not unlike a different white culture, that was new to me. It never was measured by race, but rather the people supporting it. It allowed me to develop an open attitude toward all cultures, that is enriched each and every time I am exposed to them. It allows me to love all people for their character and not their color. Culture is the difference, and it can “Bind or Blind” depending on how you choose to view it…