The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 26

Race & Segregation

A good writer must reach all people:  black, white, Hispanic, Asian, poor, wealthy, those with Ph.D.’s and those with high school diplomas.

I grew up as a child of Finnish immigrants on a small farm in North East, Maryland.  We spoke Finnish at home; English was my second language.  Our schools were segregated back then and all the black children were bussed to a school in Elkton, our county seat. 

I never once spoke to a person of color until I went to college and I often wondered about it.  I would see black people and their children around town.  Why couldn’t we talk?  Why couldn’t they go to my school?  What if all the Finnish people were green or purple or orange?  Would we be sent to a school somewhere else, shunned, ignored?  Denied basic rights? 

These black people had lived in our area for generations. Here I was, a first generation American and I had all the rights of a Daughter of the American Revolution.  Why?  Because I was blonde and fair skinned.   

Times have changed since then, thank God, and I welcome it.  Today, I have black friends, I worked with black children when I ran youth groups in our church in New Jersey.  In my first job out of college, my boss and most of the employees at the Tremont Welfare Center in New York City were black. 

Yesterday, my husband and I went to a Coastal Carolina Football Game.  Many of the players are black, many of the fans seated near us were black, and we all got along just fine. 

I went for a short walk on the balcony and ran into a group of handsome young black men laughing and talking while trying to take a group selfie.  I offered to take the picture.  They put their smiling faces together, I clicked their cell phone a couple of times.  We were all joking about it when one of guys grabbed me and said, “We need a picture!”

One of his friends took it and Phillip sent it to me.  Here I am smiling and having a good time with a complete stranger who happens to be a CCU football fan.  And he is as dark as I am fair.

What a wonderful world we live in today.  Freedom of association. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech.  The Bill of Rights coming true.   

Admittedly, there are still problems, but we’ve come a long, long way.  Thanks, Phillip for showing me that truth!

Speak Your Mind