Segregation

I brought it up a couple of times and thought I would hit the note today.

I don’t remember much about being a little kid. We lived in a small town just outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was a long road that lead to our neighborhood of perfect brick houses, and all white people. I didn’t think anything of it then and I didn’t until I was in college.

You had to pass through the black neighborhood to get to ours, though they were several miles apart. I remember the tricycles on the front lawns which were not manicured. The wood that made the houses was not well painted. They were poor. There was one particular house that faced the road as we traveled down it. It wasn’t set to far back so you could see the old black man in his rocking chair on the front porch. He always waved. I’m sure he is long gone now, but I always remember his face smiling; his worn hands waving. He is a fond memory.

Our neighborhood had it’s own elementary school and since there was no black families there were no black kids. I must have been ten when they built low income housing in the farthest back part of our district. It definitely riled up some people. Not only did they not want that type of house they didn’t want the blacks moving in. One did. People referred to them as niggers and burnt crosses. The typical hate crimes though I doubt anyone was ever arrested. It was thirty years ago, and though I would like to say we have come a long way in society its probably not the truth even with a black president.

In college I took some cultural anthropology and worked with a girl who was black. She was great. I liked her, but lord let the demons lose if you brought up the word segregation. We weren’t friends to long after that. I was curious then about her family history. I wanted to see the other side. To know her opinions. My mistake and I never mentioned it to anyone again. She did kind of taint the pot a bit. I know it’s a sensitive topic and maybe I wasn’t that sensitive in my approach back then. But looking back I had no idea about her past or how she had been treated as a person.

I never realized how much my past affected me until my son was in kindergarten. even though I was a small child the actions of others had made their mark. My son, the very first day of school had found a best friend. He would come running up to me and give me the highlights of the day. Tell me about playing basketball, or chase. At no point did he ever tell me the kid was black. Nope never mentioned it, because it didn’t matter to him. He didn’t care. He didn’t see this kid defined by the color of his skin. At no point did he say I met a nigger today. Nope, his friend was just like any other kid, and one that had a lot in common him.

One beautiful afternoon I was a little early to pick up my son, so I parked and waited by the gate with several other parents. All of different races. When the kids came running out my son introduced me to his new friend. He’s black was the first thing that popes in my head. Couldn’t you find a white friend? That’s what I thought, and right there I realized how much growing up in that small town affected me.

I don’t consider myself a racist person, although I was and probably still am defined by the actions of the past. I met the mom and we chatted while the boys ran around us playing. She was a beautiful lady. She had heard so much about my son, as I had hers. We laughed about the stories the boys told. Talked about the up coming field trip. Made a play date for the weekend. Had a great time. Other than the color of her skin, she was no different than me. This was a moment of freedom for me. I unfairly judged based on my childhood experiences which I though I had left in my childhood.

I read a study not to long ago that had been recently done. Children don’t see color. Children don’t have hidden agendas. Children don’t see race. They don’t judge. Children see friends. They see playtime. Children only learn to hate, or judge through the actions of adults. As adults we should embrace their wisdom, hear their actions as their voice a small. Often times I feel my children are smarter than I.

Do I wish my past was different, no. I have fond memories of the man in the rocking chair. Do I wish people were treated different, with equality, respect. Yes. People should be judged on there individual character, there actions. We can learn volumes from our children’s actions if we open our eyes. I am glad to have the experiences I have and to live new ones through my children’s lessons.

I hope I did not offend here. That as always is not the intent. I simple wanted to share my story. My life experience.

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