I grew up in the late 50′s and the turbulent 60′s.
When the Civil Rights movement came along, I marched for the cause. I was not the only white person in the marches – although our number was a decided minority in those activities – but it seemed the right thing to do.
For some strange reason, I saw no sense in the entire “race” issue.
My German grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister and many of the churches in which he preached were predominantly black parishes. Whenever we visited, we attended the church he was currently ministering.
The parishioners were more animated than the usual church we visited in Maryland and the singing of the hymns was quite a bit more vibrant.
And, as we usually visited in the middle of June, we helped celebrate Granddad’s birthday, which just happened to fall on Juneteenth. He always threw a huge picnic for the church with fried chicken and homemade ice cream.
That was my background. The idea that the color of skin meant anything was a foreign concept.
Our neighbors in Maryland were the first interracial couple I ever met.
So, it was a little odd when I saw the reaction of my first wife a few years later, when a dark-skinned boy walked our daughter home from school.
I was out front working on the car that day and thanked the young man for walking her home and we talked for a couple of minutes – his name was Alex and he was grinning ear to ear – before the wife came out and hustled the daughter into the house.
After the fellow left, I went inside to see what the agitation was about.
My wife was explaining to our six year old girl that having that sort of person as a friend was okay but not to let it go any further.
Flabbergasted, I asked her what she was talking about. The two kids were only six years old. What was she so afraid of?
“You wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one of them, would you?”
Amazingly, we were still married for six more years.
Why should skin color even matter? There are all different shades of white, brown, and black. Trying to separate them out seems a pointless task.
I still cannot understand that way of thinking.