It was 1979 and my high school civics teacher thought it would be good for our class to go on a field trip. A trip to the “big” city. Seattle, Washington. I grew up in a small community, big enough at the time for two high schools, yet small enough for the police to call you by name, if they caught you smooching, after dark near the town tennis courts. (Hi Mr. Hartle, thanks for not telling my parents.) Good, got that off my shoulders. whew.
Field trip. We left early in the morning and drove the hour to the big city. The field trip was to hear a man speak at the Seattle Center. His name was Jessie Jackson. He was the leader of the “Rainbow Coalition”. I will be honest, I grew up in a high school with one black person, who happened to be intelligent, funny, and a good school chum and one mixed race girl, over the top intelligent, excellent manners, sweet and so pretty & just happen to have most glorious skin tone of any of us valley girls. That being stated, traveling into the big city, to a huge convention center, during the time it took us to walk into that arena, our class became the minority. It was overwhelming and shocking. I was 17 at the time and I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never heard someone speak/yell/preach/sweat/gasp for air/grab the audience like he did. He whipped that audience, me included, into a frenzy. I can remember the excitement. You could actually FEEL the energy in that room. I don’t actually remember all that he said. I do remember being excited about “what we could accomplish”.
Once home, I wanted to tell my mother all about it. About all what went on, it was thrilling and exciting and loud and shocking and listen to this and this and this…………..I will let you guess her response.
The years unfolded in front of me. I KNEW the moment that I had children, I would raise them to see people, not what race or religion they were. If I did nothing else, my children would be brought up to be well-educated, informed and would not have one judgmental bone in their bodies.
During those “junior high school years”, our plan of parenting was tested by many, many adults. Some adults, pushed even me, to the breaking point. I can still see myself, shaking on the inside, standing face to face, on more than one occasion, raising my voice and asking “would your mother be proud of your behavior”? I wanted our boys to see the stupidity of adults choosing to judge others based on ignorance. We stood our ground. We never, ever wavered. We knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what our mission was. Treat others as you would like to be treated with honor and respect.
Mr. Right and I raised two well-educated, informed, kind & respectful human beings. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Go have lunch with either of them. Meet their friends. Job shadow them for one day. I guarantee you will have only great things to say about them. We are extremely proud of the life they have chosen to lead. Yes, we can and will stand and answer for their upbringing. I can look anyone in the eye and said, we did our very best to raise human beings of honor.
As excited as I was all those years ago, to hear someone speak to the masses………….today, I would (shaking on the inside), stand my ground, look Mr. Jackson, in the eye and ask, “would your mother be proud of your behavior”. Are you willing to answer for your children’s behavior? Are you encouraging peace and understanding with all? Are you using your “power” and “fame” for good?
I think I will concentrate on a couple of different views, each were also able to whip up the masses into a state of frenzy.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.