Home

My anger and frustration over the murder of Jordan Davis is what made me decide to blog about this today.  The man who shot and killed him wasn’t convicted of murder.  Thankfully, it was a mistrial and he will be tried again.  Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses it here.

I chatted with a co-worker named Bea today.  She, like me, was born in the Tidewater area of Virginia.  A lot of eastern North Carolinians ended up in Tidewater.  She lived in Edenton, where one of my sisters was born.  I mentioned fondly the town of Belhaven, where I spent a lot of time as a child.  Bea is African American, so I realized she may not have fond memories of North Carolina.  I mentioned this to her.  She was surprised to hear me acknowledge that.

She’s about 15 years older than me, and lived in Tidewater as a child.  She remembers going to the back of the town restaurant (Grant’s) to get food to go, because blacks were not allowed to eat there.  She remembers the insurance salesman (always white) who came to their house to sell insurance over the years, and her father never feeling like he could look him in the eye, even in his own house.

She said I was the first white person to ever mention things like this to her.  Bea is 65.  She couldn’t believe I knew about white privilege and sundown towns.  My beloved Belhaven was a sundown town.  I’m not sure if it was a posted rule, but here’s how it went:  Black people were expected to be at home by sundown.  There was a 4 hour window each week when black folks could shop downtown.  On Saturdays, by 2 pm there would be no whites downtown.  From 2 until 6pm, blacks did their weekly shopping.  These are things I didn’t notice as a child.  What I did notice was my grandmother lamenting black people walking by her house on Main Street.  She didn’t feel it should be allowed.  Belhaven is on the water and there is a public beach.  I do remember the beach becoming integrated.  I remember this because I wasn’t allowed to go to the beach anymore, and that was why.

Bea related a story to me about stopping in Tennessee en route to Oklahoma when her husband was in the service.  It was 1975, and she had young children.  First the owner of the restaurant called her husband “Boy.”  The waitress took their order and brought their food.  After they had eaten, the restaurant staff brought a trash can to the table and threw everything away, in front of them.  Plates, silverware, glasses and the trash.  Please imagine for one minute how that would make you feel.

Please read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article.  Please try to understand centuries of feeling less than a total person, or lack of awareness that others unlike us may have that feeling.  It doesn’t go away with the Civil Rights Act.  Or the Voting Act.  Young black boys have to be so very careful how they act in public, lest anyone become afraid of them without provocation, just because they are black.  That isn’t fair.  It isn’t right.  Awareness by white people is the only way this unfairness will ever end.  Just empathy and awareness.

As a white, it isn’t easy to hear.  I didn’t grow up “privileged”, I used to think.  But my baby dolls were always the same color as me, as were my Barbies.  So were my paper dolls, and the band-aids that covered my scratches.  When I go to a hotel, the shampoo is perfect for my hair.  When I go to the drugstore for shampoo, I don’t have to go to the Ethnic section to get it.  I have never been followed by security personnel in a store, nor have I been pulled over by a policeman or woman and been afraid of anything more than getting a ticket.

I could go on and on.  I’ll save it for another post.  Thank you so much for reading this.  If you are white, please try to educate other whites.  It is the only way we can heal it.  By the way, I don’t profess to not be racist.  I couldn’t be a woman from Virginia and not have that.  I can say I work on it.  I really try.  That’s the best I can do.  I’m not sure I will ever be free of it, but I will try to be educated and empathic.

Now, I shall leave you with a picture of Penny and Monkey, my son’s cat.  Penny wants to be friends so much.  It’s a new relationship and hopefully it will happen.

Image

 

Happy New Year!

2014/01/15

I’ve been a bit shy about blogging.  Did I mention I was harassed on line and it scared me a little?  Made me sort of reassess what I was putting out there, and I had to get over the self blaming for the incident, as well as the self loathing for allowing it to happen.  Anyhow, I heard something this week that inspired me so very much.  Franklin McClain was one of the original Greensboro Four.  Well, right here is NPR’s transcript of what Mr. McClain said about it.

Mr. McClain passed away this week.  He was only 73.  What he said is something everyone in this country should know was a reality for African Americans, not so long ago.  He said he knew he would leave there in handcuffs or in a box, i.e. he would be arrested or killed.  Do people realize how dangerous it was (and sometimes still is) for African Americans just to go about their daily business?

One of the things that made my heart 3 times bigger was that during this incident they were refused service, which they expected.  A little white lady approached them and they were expecting to be chastised.  She whispered in a calm voice, boys, I’m so proud of you.
 That really made me happy.  It reminded me to appreciate my Mom because my Mom would do something like that.  She was so instrumental in helping me open my mind about race in a divided south.

Mr. McClain said, “What I learned from that little incident was don’t you ever, ever stereotype anybody in this life until you at least experience them and have the opportunity to talk to them.” 

I will always try to honor his words.  Rest in peace, Mr. Franklin McCain. 

Image

RIP Trayvon Martin

2012/03/16

I am very saddened by the murder of Trayvon Martin.  We know the shooter called 911 to report a “suspicious person”.  He was in his car, and decided to follow Trayvon.  He was in no danger, and Trayvon hadn’t done anything except walk toward his Dad’s fiance’s house, a home he had visited before.

This child was 17, had just gone to 7-11 to buy a pack of Skittles.  My 17 year old son would do that.  Like Trayvon, he wouldn’t have a weapon on him.  Unlike Trayvon, he isn’t black, so I have to wonder if he would have looked suspicious to someone like the shooter, Zimmerman.    I can’t possibly know, but based on historical fact, young black men are viewed suspiciously and stopped by police over and over and over.  I have 2 sons with a combined 5 years of driving and neither of them has ever been stopped.  If so, I’ve never been told, but I doubt it.

I understand the police don’t feel they have enough evidence to convict Zimmerman yet.  I hope he is arrested and convicted for taking the life of an innocent little boy.  Even if they had an altercation, Zimmerman is the one who followed Trayvon.  Zimmerman is the one who shot Trayvon.  Even if Trayvon started the altercation (which would be difficult if Zimmerman had stayed in his car), it was because he felt threatened.  Wouldn’t you feel threatened if you were being followed in a car as you walked down your neighborhood street, at night, in the rain?

We don’t know what happened.  We have only Zimmerman’s word, and some witnesses who heard things.  Some who say they heard a child crying out and it stopped after the gunshot.  Those witnesses were the first on scene, because it happened in their backyard.  I hope they had crime scene experts go over it to see if they could figure out how this happened.

I hear they are going to release the 911 tapes.  I’m glad.  I have read Zimmerman used derogatory, racial terms to describe this “suspicious person”.  I hope he didn’t.  I hope that isn’t true.

I believe there are 2 issues here.  The first is race.  Young black men being viewed as a threat.  The 2nd is the loose cannon that is Zimmerman.  I read he called the police 46 times in 14-15 mos.  I read he has confronted “suspicious” people in the neighborhood in the past.  Why did he need a semi-automatic weapon?  He was a bomb waiting to blow.  However, if the police can’t make a case against him for killing an innocent boy, it is just another lynching, in a line of many.