Black history month, “what’s that have to do with me?”

I never paid a lot of attention to black history month and have even fallen pray to the “why isn’t there a white history month” mentality.

I’m not old enough to have lived the atrocities that existed in the past. I have to admit that even though I felt sympathy at the types of things that I read about, I didn’t really “feel the pain” in a gut wrenching manner. It was something that I understood was horrendous but it was mostly all before my time. It was inexcusable but it didn’t really seem to effect me.

I’ve been contemplating the act of forgiveness lately. I also heard a program on NPR today about the civil rights movement. It just occurred to me the strength that black families had to have to get to the point of forgiveness.

I won’t profess that there is no longer discrimination. I think in some form it will always be with us. For some it is easier to hate differences instead of celebrate them. I think this originates in fear of those differences. But I do think that for the most part things have improved. I can only vaguely remember race issues growing up.

Some peoples hatred is still openly exhibited today though, for no offense other than I person has a different skin color. I few years ago, I was having supper at a restaurant in town. The waitress was very sweet, but things looked like they were hectic. I stated that I appreciated her and commented that it looked like a difficult day. She said, “you have no idea, the kind of day it has been”. She then related her story.

She said that a customer had asked for another waitress because he didn’t want to be served by a black waitress. She said she would get him another one because she didn’t know how to be anything other than black. After this man had so openly acted toward her with hatred, she only tried to return the injustice with humor.

I asked if the manager “threw” him out. She said no, that she didn’t say anything until after the customer had left. She said the manager said she didn’t have to put up with that sort of disgraceful treatment and to please alert him in the future. She didn’t put a lot of anger into the whole issue. It was just “one of those things”.

My heart ached for her and I told her so. I also complimented her on not letting the lousy creep bother her. He sure enough bothered me and I didn’t witness it first hand. Surely, emotional acts like this have to be as damaging to the soul as physical damage is to the body. It must take a strong spirit to deflect such hatred instead of taking it in a nurturing it to use against someone else.

But I wondered just how deeply these sort of things would have to bother you. No one ever likes to be treated like they are “less than”. And no matter the circumstances, no one is “less than” another human being.

Today when I heard the program, I thought of this brave young woman. Making the simple and profound act of forgiveness. I hope for the day when such acts are not needed.
I hope that in my own life, and in each of yours that you can make the profound decision to forgive those that do inexcusable and inhuman acts. I hope that we can do this for ourselves and for the ignorant and hating individuals that perpetrate such acts both small and large. I think this is the best gift that we can give to humanity.

We have made strides but we can’t continue to make progress without actual effort to move forward and the acknowledgment that black history is a part of all of our lives, because it is “our” history no matter what our skin color. I look forward to the day when it will be so foreign that it will almost seem to be fiction instead of actual history.

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Comment by Cathaus on February 27, 2009 at 12:33am
You won't say that once you taste it!!!
Comment by Bobi Carr ("parker") on February 26, 2009 at 11:45pm
Comment by Cathaus on February 26, 2009 at 11:26pm
What's not to love? I'll bring my famous potato salad and mint tea!!!!
Comment by Bobi Carr ("parker") on February 26, 2009 at 11:13pm

I'm glad you love my cousing Cannie as much as I do. We'll even invite you to our family reunion.
Comment by Cathaus on February 26, 2009 at 10:50pm
Cannie--I won't pretend to know what you have endured through the years. I have always been able to "blend in ". No outstanding characteristics that make me noticeable or stand out in a crowd. I have never been singled out because of my skin color as you have. If saying I am sorry could undo your hurt I would say it a thousand times over. I don't understand how we can claim to be Christians and then hate another person for their skin color. Hatred is based on ignorance. Yes, I said ignorance. I know many highly educated people that are ignorant. I hear people say they are color blind, seeing neither white nor black. I do see color. I see the color of a heart. The human heart is either black with hatred or pure white with love. There can be nothing in between. The most kind and loving woman that I have ever been privileged to know is Mrs. Norma Dell Stewart. She and I don't share the same skin color, but we do share a pure love and devotion to each other. I know without a doubt that she would do anything for me and I would do nothing less for her. She is a woman of great wisdom and greater love. She has endured so much in her life but the joy that shows on her beautiful face is a reflection of her love of the Lord. If anyone had a reason to hate, it would be Mrs. Norma. She chooses to love and in return she is loved by every person that she comes in contact with. I get the feeling that you have a lot of that in you. Please don't let some of these bufoons make you feel less than. You are just as God created you. You are made in His image. I laugh sometimes thinking how funny it would be when and if some of these bigots make it to heaven only to find that God has dark skin! What would they say then? Would they want to stay? If their child needs an organ transplant, would they turn down a black childs organ? Some would probably refuse to accept it.
Come home Cannie. Bring your family and join our families. You will be loved!
Comment by Big Daddy, bcnr on February 26, 2009 at 10:09pm
WOW! I am touched! Some people really do get it. I thank you all for your posts and especially to you Parker. You have a way of really reaching out and touching people. It is truly a gift. Race relations are indeed better, but we still have a long way to go. I learned years ago to forgive, but I find impossible to forget. The displays of racism I have witnessed and been a victim to over the years still eat at me but I try to not let them cloud my life. Parker, perhaps I can elaborate in a couple of weeks when we "come home". Thank you all and God Bless. C
Comment by sesport on February 22, 2009 at 9:21pm
Parker - Indeed, it does take a special kind of person to deflect injustices done to them and resist turning it against someone else. Some of the most inspirational work I have ever read was that of Maya Angelou. From the time she was a small girl, it seems injustices were attracted to her as if she were a magnet. One of her first works, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, shows the promise that her voice has become today through writing.

While we celebrate the achievements of one culture during Black History Month, maybe it should be taken more generally as a reminder to celebrate all cultures and recognize their achievements. Our country is the great Melting Pot, and we have benefitted enormously from it.

Good post. sesport :0)
Comment by Cathaus on February 20, 2009 at 3:35pm
I am so thankful for parents that taught me that I was no better than anyone and no one was better than me. Just as we have no control over our sex, we have no control over our skin color. What we can control is our hate-filled hearts. Hate comes in all colors and sizes. How can we choose to love only those that look like us, think like us, vote like us and live like us? Hatred is a choice that we consciously make, and even worse, what we sometimes perpetrate in our children. The world has too many haters. What we can really use are more lovers!
Comment by Sarah on February 20, 2009 at 1:04am
Well said Parker. And what a wonderful and gracious person this waitress you were priviliged to have met is.
They say forgiving someone doesn't mean you are saying the person was just makes you free. (from the hate and anger that this customer unfortunately dumped out). Great post. :)

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