Teaching my kids to see people.

Mike L.
Atlanta, GA

I grew up in Atlanta GA during the 60’s. While I loved my grandparents I couldn’t understand why they thought the ice cream truck vendor was such a “nasty”, “dirty” and “diseased” man! “Mr. Jones” (as he politely asked us to call him) always had a smile on his face and was quick to turn around to come back down our block if it took us a few extra minutes to scrounge up the money to buy something. He was a nice man with a big heart who enjoyed what he did. I remember it was a hot july afternoon. My mom and I were buying an ice cream sandwich from Mr Jones when my grandfather came driving up. He told my mom to give back the ice cream and not to buy it from “that n-word” (I still hate that word)! My mom being the sensible and kind person she was, thanked Mr Jones for the sandwichs, gave them to me and asked me to go inside while she “talked” to her father. I did as she asked but only took a few steps before my mom proceeded to tell my grandfather off. He screamed and yelled at her about all the bad things that Mr Jones “could” be involved in and that it reflected on him (my grandfather) negatively that she was seen buying from “that n-word”! Being 8yrs old at the time I just didn’t know about the underlying hatered my grandparents had for anyone that was not “white”. My grandfather couldn’t understand why his daughter didn’t feel the same way. Before I was born my mom had married a man who had opened her eyes to the racial issues of the time. It was later in life that my mom explained to me that she had vowed to teach us to see people for their actions, not for their color. “There will be good and bad people in all walks of life” she would say. “Let what they do tell you who they really are”! It was when I started my own family that I thanked my mom for starting her own movement. I made a vow of my own to take what she taught me and teach my children to see people for what they do and not by what they look like. I know it’s small in comparison to the bigger picture but personal to me as I equip my children to go forth in this world.

 

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