Today in My History
2000:It's OK--I'm With the Band
2001: Serial 7s
2002: All in a Day's Work
2003: The Road Back
2004: Pomp and Circumstance
2005: Having a Gay ol' Time
2006: Young Pups and Old Poops
2007: Just a Normal Morning
2008: On the Street Where I Lived.
2009: 49 Years Ago
Books Read in 2010
"The School of Essential Ingredients"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10) And Then I Ate
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13 June 2010
A week ago, I wrote an entry about my high school reunion and I included this photo of my friend Rose Lewis, who spoke at the lunch...
I mentioned that I didn't know until that time that she had been the very first African American woman to be trained as a plastic surgeon in the United States.
I also included this photo of my friend Ruby Buffin...
and said only that she had read some "class memories," which had been written by another classmate who had been unable to attend. I was vaguely aware of Ruby's career path, but not enough to really add it to my entry. She is justifiably proud of her own accomplishments, and sent me a photo and an explanation, which she hoped I would share:
Her accomplishments, as well as Rosie's make me embarrassed that I have accomplished so little in my life, when we all came from the same background.
Ruby also mentioned that she would like to have a heart to heart talk some day, adding, "When I read your comment about not knowing about Rose being the 1st African-American female plastic surgeon, sad memories regarding discriminatory experiences at St. Vincent High surfaced for me which I want to share with you at another time. Thank God for civil rights legislation that brought about much needed change in our society."
I found this interesting--and sad--because midway through our lunch at the reunion, I realized that I was sitting at the table with the 3 African American classmates, while everybody else was sitting at other tables. I had chosen the table because Ruby and Rose had been friends in school, and the other women there had merely been acquaintances.
I don't remember, during my years at St. Vincent, mentally categorizing people by race. I was part of two friend groups. One consisted of three Caucasians, one Latina, and one African-American. I don't remember exactly how many were in the other group, but one was African American (Rose), one was Japanese, and there was myself. It never occurred to me that there was anything worth noting that we were of mixed ethnicities, though I do remember that the African American girls often grouped together at lunch time. It makes me feel sad to think they may have experienced discrimination at our school.
It has always, frankly, puzzled me to realize that I grew up so totally unaware of racial differences (so did my sister, at least until she died in 1971). My father preached equality, but he was very prejudiced, especially against Black people. He talked the talk, but he never walked the walk and put up barriers between my sister and a Black friend of hers, going to the young man's place of employment to tell him he was not allowed to go to the movies with Karen. I still laugh when I think of his trying to convince a Black Panther that he wasn't prejudiced by offering to play his beloved Art Tatum records for him!
My mother, whom nobody would accuse of being racist, grew up in a different era and has always lumped all people of a certain race or ethnicity into stereotypical groups. All "xxxs" are such-and such. She doesn't like a neighbor because she is "too ethnic" (for "ethnic" substitute the specific ethnic group to which she belongs. I finally got angry with her lately and said "What does 'too ethnic' mean, exactly?" and she couldnt come up with an answer; she just knew that this woman was "too ethnic" and she didn't like her for it). She always assumes specific characteristics of one ethnic group or that characteristic of another group. I always cringe to listen to her talk. In fairness, however, she also lumps the Scotch, from whom we are descended, into groups by ethnic characterizations too. Her husband always used racial slurs and it was all I could do to be civil to him sometimes, listening to him rant and rave about this or that ethnic group, using language that would not be permitted on television, usually preceded by "the damn..."
I don't think there is anything necessarily laudible about having friends of various colors or ethnicities, or sexual orientation. I think that's the way we all should be, and am grateful that my life experiences have put me in the position of knowing so many wonderful xxxs and yyyys. I've also known a number of xxxs and yyys who were jerks as well. We're all just....people. And that's the way it should be,
It scares me sometimes to see the pockets of racism that seem more virulent than they have been in years (did you see the grammar school somewhere in the midwest which is teaching Mandarin to its students, over protest by the parents, who don't want their children learning how to be communists. Pulleeze...the scary thing is that they are serious!)
As I watch the growing homogenization of this country, the mixed race couples on television that nobody seems to get up in arms about any more, the mixed race children in the schools, etc., that when the current generation gets to be my age, perhaps there won't be any racial bias or discrimination and we'll all just be one human race.
Nice vision, eh?
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Stop by and wish Willy a happy 96th birthday