Monday, January 16, 2017

The White Girl With The Black Baby

Martin Luther King, Jr.  One of my heroes, along with so many other African Americans, including Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey.  And on a recent trip to Texas I learned all about Barbara Jordan.  Wow!  Brave, determined, and inspirational.

We recently found this gem at the public library:

It's ironic that it's MLK Day, because just this week I was cleaning closets and found my precious baby, Angel.

I bought Angel when I was eight-years-old on my first trip to Disneyland--not your typical mouse-ears purchase.  I remember she cost fourteen dollars, which was a lot of money back then.  I earned my money by selling eggs for fifty-cents-a-dozen to neighbors and school teachers--eggs my grandfather gave me from his ranch.  That was a sweet deal for me.

Angel was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.

You couldn't buy dolls of color where I came from.  I was a white girl from a white ranching/logging community in a small town.  Growing up, I only remember one African American family.  Benita, where ever you are, I wish I had come alongside you more often, offering you true friendship in our hopscotch circle.

It wasn't until our life in the military that I had a chance to experience true diversity, and while I would like to believe that our world has come a long way in terms of racism and prejudice, I think recent events have shown otherwise.  Our discrimination is often subliminal and silent, yet as loud as writhing pain.  And I am not innocent; my white privilege is not lost on me.

I have so many happy memories with Angel.  I treated her like a real baby, feeding her with real baby bottles, tucking her next to me at night, and insisting that my mother wash her clothing with my own.

I also have one sad memory with Angel.  I was at the hospital visiting my grandfather. I think he had been kicked by a horse?  I'm not sure about that part.  But I clearly remember being in the small elevator with my mom, and an older man stepped in and struck up a conversation, then pointed at Angel.  He chuckled about me having a black baby.  I don't remember any of his words, but the message he conveyed seared into my core. Brene' Brown would call it shame.  I clutched my Angel all the tighter.

Our world has changed a lot since then.

And it hasn't changed at all.

But I hold onto those famous words, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that."  

Keep shining light.  Keep showing love.

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