Friday, October 21, 2005

Racism in my life


My "Little Black Sambo" entry got me thinking back to my childhood.

I was born in Iowa, and after my parents and I left there, we lived in small-town north Missouri until I was ready for the sixth grade.  I never saw an African-American live, in person, until we moved to Kansas City... as far as I can recall. 

I do remember my daddy sitting on our front porch in Iowa on a hot summer night, with the radio blaring, punching the air as he rooted for Joe Lewis.

I loved my Little Black Sambo book, and asked my parents for a colored baby-doll... but I used the N word, because that's all I knew.  Mamma laughed at my request, but Santa brought me my doll. 

We used to play ring-around-the-rosy at school, and ended it with "the last one down is a N----- baby."  It's all we knew. 

When we moved to Kansas City, we lived on the north side of the river, so there were no African-Americans in my school.  Somewhere along the line, though, my parents and I stopped using the N word.

Daddy used to talk about working on the railroad, when he was young, with a black man who was the hardest worker and the friendliest person there.

Mother worked at the Cafeteria at Sears for awhile after we first moved to Kansas City, and came home talking about how frustrating it was to see colored women (that's the term we used then) working behind the counter, and yet not be allowed to sit at the counter and eat.

I was raised in the Church of Christ, and sometimes our services were pretty dull.  So if the "colored" Church of Christ was having a "gospel meeting" ( the Church of Christ term for a revival), we attended!  We were often the only white people there, but we sure did enjoy the lively services.

Looking back, I believe  my parents were pretty darned  progressive.  And I remember the words of the Bob Dylan song:

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, and how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, and how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

We've come a long way, baby.


siennastarr said...

Yes we have, haven't we?  Haven't we all?
Very insightful entry, Mosie.  Not long winded, but short and to the point!  
Guess what?  We both went to the same church.  The Church of Christ.  I don't go there anymore, as I found them to be so awfully rigid about everything.  I always left church services feeling as though it didn't matter how good a christian I tried to be I was never going to be good enough to go to heaven.  Never uplifted when I left there.  That's not the way it should be at all.  AT least not in my book.
Anyway... didn't mean to get off on that tangent! lol


tendernoggle said...

That was how it was back then, for alot of us.Times sure have changed.

plieck30 said...

There was only one black man in our town and he didn't really live there, just stayed there to work. His family lived somewhere else. I always felt so bad that he had to go to the back door of the cafe to get a hamberger. Then when we went to San Antonio I would see them have to step to the back of the bus. As a child I just didn't understand it. Paula

toonguykc said...

I grew up hearing the "n" word too.  It's a generational, regional thing -- I assume.

Very brave of you to post this entry, buddy!  


marainey1 said...

Thank the Good Lord !  'On Ya ' MA

ora4uk said...

My husband Mixon was a chaplain in the Army for 20 years...and we had an African/American chaplain friend...who was from Dallas....and the four of us went there (the men had an Army meeting for about two hours)...and we ladies just did our thing...after meeting up together again....we decided to have dinner before driving back to Oklahoma....and went into this cafeteria...self a Picadilly's....and when we went up to the serving line we were asked to leave....and I in my niave way said...oh what is wrong....are you closing...they said no we cannot serve you...and I said why not...(now hubby and friend were in full military dress tags...etc...)..and she said..."we don't serve niggers here"....her very words....I was say the you talk about racism...this was in the early sixties....we sadly asked for the manager...didn't do Mixon wrote down names..we wrote down address etc...and sadly strolled out...I was in tears...we went to a McDonald's drive thru...ate outside.....and then went back home...I have never forgotten that was an area restaurant...they are no longer in business...we checked...we did tell our commander when we returned and he wrote the appropriate letter thru that ladies and gentleman is RACISM....thanks for listening....our friend served two tours in Vietnam...30 years in the Army....retired as a Colernal....and lives happily in Plano, Texas....Hugs..Ora of Kentucky

bookncoffee said...

Yes, indeed, we have come a long way.

fmgruber said...

Hey! We have got to back-up  the loaded truck and trailer a moment! All the way back to your last contribution. Cliff's doings?

Boy! Does Cliff’s shop need help. Near as I can tell he ain’t got near enough stuff in there. All that neatness just ain’t farm busy natural nor mentally right.

I’ve got-to ponder this? Cliff’s making a bale spear for moving the cattle hay to the cattle he selling to buy a new hay mower for cattle he’ll have sold.
Hmmmmmm!?!?!? I hope’s you have a couple hay burners to even all this thinking out.

ravenlark2 said...

How very true hun. We've come a long way and we ALL have a long way to go in becoming truly equal.

Sometimes in trying to change something, you change it too far in the other direction. I hope one day we can all see that and get back to true equality without racism for any race.

Great entry, so honest and thought provoking.