Old Diary

I Have A Dream – The Sandcastle


I’ve been reading Linda’s blog for some time now and hers is an experience I share.  I was touched by her post and wanted to share it with you.

The Sandcastle.

Blogs I’ve been reading lately have been about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous speech. I wrote a comment on one of those blogs then decided I needed to post that comment here.

“When my daughter was young, back in the 70s, I did a program for mostly white kids using Fisher Price people to show how they were all kind of the same but kind of different–clothes, hair styles, skin color, etc. The mother of an adopted Korean daughter thanked me for that program. Then I did that program for kindergartners who were mostly black–they didn’t get it. There were so used to seeing the differences they couldn’t see the similarities. Broke my heart.

As an adult I was with a group of friends one day when one of the guys made a comment about us not all being caucasian. Surprised, I asked who wasn’t. He said he was Eurasian. I had never noticed.

Apparently it is easier to not notice if you are a member of the group not often discriminated against.”

When my brother was in third grade he had a birthday party to which he invited his best friend from school. The child said he could not come. My brother was heart-broken. My Mom called the boy’s mother to reinforce the written invitation. Finally, the mother said my Mom did not know that her son was a Negro. Mom said of course she knew but he was my brother’s best friend so we really wanted him to come to the party. His mother said in that case he could come. How sad to be afraid to let your child go to a friend’s house for fear of discrimination.

It was years later before I realized that incident may have been the catalyst for me being invited to visit my black school friend’s houses. I played with everyone so I didn’t know there might have been something special about those invitations.

I am so glad I was raised to be color blind.

TTYL, Linda

Color blindness is nice, but it does make one blind to the problems of what it’s like to be discriminated against.  I love Linda’s comment, “Apparently it is easier to not notice if you are a member of the group not often discriminated against.

I’m sorry, but not having been discriminated against it has always been harder for me to put my self in someone else’s place and understand what their life might be like.  I grew up, and tried to help our daughter grow up in a color blind world.  When I was still traveling as an itinerant preacher I stayed with white families and black families , I have been invited to weddings and funerals where I have been the only white person present, and one of those funerals was in one of the worst parts / most gang-ridden parts of New Orleans before Katrina.  All I ever felt was the presence of other people.

To be honest, I was more uncomfortable when I was visiting Northern Ireland on a speaking trip and a dear family took me to a concert in Belfast.  The concert itself was fine,  I remember them well, The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.  At any rate, we left the largest concert hall in Belfast about 10:30 at night (not anything that normally fills me with unrest). I did notice that all the concertgoers were moving quickly to their cars, but it was not until I saw British troops in battle gear crouching behind cars throughout the parking area and the dispersal area that I sensed what ‘fear’ of assembly might be like.  The troops were there just in case the IRA was going to choose that moment to rain fear upon the population.  Nothing happened externally – but I was forever changed internally.

I wish there was a simple way to help people move past their inability to see similarity.  Over that I weep.

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9 thoughts on “I Have A Dream – The Sandcastle

  1. Growing up in the 50s and 60s by older parents, I was NOT raised color blind but I never understood hating or being afraid of people for superficial reasons. I choose my friends by how they acted, not how they looked.

    I admit that I also had a few minor lessons in what it was like to be a minority. In college, my roommate was a black student and I thought we were getting along fine, but she was getting grief for having a white roommate, so I had to move to a different dorm room. My first year of teaching was in a multi-ethnic neighborhood. I was passed over for the next year because they needed a black teacher to meet quotas.

    I grew up in Rochester, NY. While married we lived in NC for 8 years.. My best friend was a black woman who was a single mom. We lived in a suburban-type area with a neighborhood pool. I invited the woman and her daughter to come swimming and she refused. She told me that it would create problems for me if I showed up with guests who were black. I was shocked. This was in the 80s. It never occurred to me that there would be a problem!

    My last job was also in a school where the majority of people working and going to school there were black or hispanic. I got along with everyone. But again, some people made assumptions about me because I was white.

    The thing is Everyone had prejudices (judgements/generalizations) about some things. Ethnicity, religion, weight, age, gender, etc. I find people making assumptions about me because I have gray hair. Unfortunately, that is just the way it is. But of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to learn and act better.

    I’m very proud of my sons who have friends of many different ethnicities, religions, both genders, etc. and they also speak out against prejudices of all sorts. (Sorry for the long comment. 🙂 )

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    • Donna,

      Your comment got me to thinking that in a lot of ways our ‘prejudices’ are rather like emotional or psychological habits — in the sense that they form a ‘thought-less’ means to deal with conflicting input and help us get through life. Of course in our day, prejudice seems to have only bad connotations but in that it means to ‘pre-judge’ there are thousands of ways we pre-judge many things: we pre-judge the TV lineup every evening. We are pre-disposed to watch some things and click-through other programs. We pre-judge food — how many of us enter fast food restaurants and always order the same thing — because we like it.

      I am lost on a new train of thought now that has me wondering whether in the end — 100 or 1000 years from now — we will conclude that prejudice is no easier to outlaw than are habits. Try thinking every time you have to tie your shoes and you’ll go mad (unless velcro has supplanted shoelaces 100 years from now).

      Donna, you got me off on a whole new wavelength here…. hmmm…..

      Peter

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    • Mrs. P says:

      It’s interesting the different interactions we each have towards individuation, whether it be by race, age, religion, etc. I think in the case of MLK he was able to get across the idea that through peace and unity one could bring about change. Which for the most part, I am in agreement with this concept. But as one sees strength in unity, on can easily forget the power of one voice standing for what one believes in. It seems that nowadays the voice we hear is the collective voice. (This is true in many areas of life even outside of race) In some of the examples you gave above, it was clear that the person you interacted with would have responded a different way had the collective voice not been whispering in her ear so to speak.

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      • I agree with you in so many ways. The Collective seems the direction of the future. No one can do anything in the world of business because they think it’s a good thing — everything needs focus groups, committees, and public relations consultants. And few people in public life seem really willing to step up and say, “this is what I believe” or if they do the collective consciousness of Facebook and Twitter beat them down and back into the popular flow.

        And crowds can always be manipulated…

        At this point in life I still try to do what I can, but it’s easier to look out and see that there are trends in our direction that, unless curbed, take us to dangerous and all too often repeated crossroads.

        A few years no one would have guessed that the Soviet Union could dissolve, or that the Iron Curtain could come down… but they and other major changes were predictable based on the direction we were going 5 and 10 and 20 years before.

        But we can only see one quarter ahead in this country — did we make or lose money this quarter. No one is looking 10 or 20 or 50 years ahed and that’s a shame.

        P

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      • Mrs. P says:

        I think the thing that irks me the most is seeing things that can be changed…moving forward in that direction and then and running into the “manipulation machine” which not only halts the forward progress but takes us back 10 or 20 years. Climate change is a perfect example of this.

        Al Gore was all over this, educating people with his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”. Then getting the world to think differently and actually do something about it. Greensburg was an excellent example of build it green. widespread agreement was moving through the world until big oil and China’s refusal to play ball shut it down.

        You hardly hear of Al Gore any more and then Solyndra went criminal after receiving government funding. That pretty much sealed the deal – no one who can do something about it wants to act. So “green” lost all of it’s momentum and is gone by all except those who really see the benefits and they are quietly moving forward…but drawing very little attention to themselves in the process. It is a shame…because baby steps may not be good enough for long term survival.

        Wow, that sounded like a rant! 🙂

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      • I have been reading an old Robert Ludlum book about the ‘manipulation machine’ as you call it… kind of makes one angry to consider various ways in which interests well beyond the common knowledge have ways if controlling things that we might want to see changed…

        I agree on the green topic. over time I think we may exchange a lot of thoughts about where we are heading; I fear too many are along for the ride but never stop to consider the ultimate outcome of their own actions.

        P

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  2. “I wish there was a simple way to help people move past their inability to see similarity. Over that I weep.”

    Yes! One of the things that made me happy earlier today was reading that legally married couples of whatever gender are now eligible for federal benefits. Another move in the right direction. Love is love is love in whatever form it comes. It was hard for me to learn that mixed race couples were illegal in many states. Slowly, slowly we continue to make progress.

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