Monday, March 12, 2007

My move to NORTH CAROLINA… 1978

It’s January of 2007 as I write this. The news spotlight has been on North Carolina recently and what it reveals seems to be deep-seeded prejudice among our college students. In the case of Duke University three white lacrosse team players are accused of raping a black girl. Then at Guilford College three football players face assault and ethnic intimidation charges after an attack on three Palestinian students.

Both of these cases are pending and I make no judgments here. The reason I cite them is because this is just what I expected to find when we moved here in 1978. I was very apprehensive about moving to the South. I had many preconceived ideas and seeing a small restaurant in the town of Robbins with a sign hanging over the front door that said, “We Reserve the Right to Serve Who We Want” only reinforced what I thought. I imagined KKK members lurking in the woods and bodies hanging from the trees.

I took a secretarial job in the Emergency Dept. of our local hospital and one of the first persons I met was a nurses aide by the name of Virginia. She is a black lady about 7 years older than I. Both of our husbands were named Richard and, since neither one was well, it gave us the basis for a friendship that has lasted for more than 26 years. Virginia retired two years before I did and we tended to drift apart...although our bond was never broken. I was very pleased to get a call from her daughter recently telling me that the family was planning a big surprise party for Virginia. It was for her 80th birthday and I was invited.

I didn’t know what to expect since she is on dialysis twice a week now; but, she looked wonderful. She was absolutely glowing and the love and warmth that permeated the room was palpable. I did a quick head count and figured that there must have been at least 125 people present. Only 13 of us were white...mainly her “family” from the ER, but there wasn‘t an inkling of discomfort among us.

What really touched my heart was the way that we all melded as one. A sit-down dinner was served, there were many impromptu speeches and a slide show was presented. Then a man and woman stood up and proceeded to entertain us with a medley of Gospel songs. It wasn’t long before we all joined in and the room was rocking with our voices.

When the party was drawing to a close we all stood. Black and white hands joined to form an unbroken circle and I couldn’t help but bask in the good feelings of love and unity that were in that room.

As I drove home I marveled at the difference between how I felt in 1978 and how I feel now. Prejudice will never be eliminated here (or anywhere else, for that matter) but a gathering such as the one I had just left was proof enough for me that, at least, we were trying.


Blogger gawilli said...

Your's is a beautiful story, Ginnie. We live in a changing area that at one point, 30 or so years ago, had a somewhat extended growth spurt due mostly to white flight. Now those that moved in are moving out - for the same reason. It's very sad and disturbing to hear the talk that accompanies the hate and fear. And you are is everywhere; we are in NW Indiana. Will we ever learn?

6:36 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Beautiful and hopeful! I don't know if we will ever get to a place where we don't even consider the color of our skin, but it is something to work toward. Your story is another cog in that wheel.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It's very uplifting to contemplate such progress.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Predjudice is such a dark, ugly thing, we need uplifting stories like yours to prove that we are going in the right direction.

10:04 AM  
Blogger KGMom said...

The more we learn about DNA and the human genome, the more we understand how alike we all are--people of every color and from every nation.
One thing that really struck me when I visited Ghana last November was how wonderfully accepting the Ghanaians are of white Americans. Many of today's African-Americans came from Ghana (or the west coast of Africa) so they would have reason to resent whites. They do not.

12:03 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

"bird by bird" as they say.



1:29 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

this reminds me of my friend who is from Missippi. She lives in Illinois now but she and her hubby were raised in the south. When he son died, his funeral was filled with people of all races. My friend is white, her husband is black and that room was filled with white, black and many asians who they have helped and befriended.

We should all be as these people and the one you wrote about. Stop seeing color when we see others and only see people there.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A beautiful story. Thanks

1:55 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

You are blessed. This is beautiful. Simply beautiful.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes...I'm back and returning to the blog world, so now trying to catch up on your entries I missed.
What a beautiful story this was, Ginnie. If only everyone could eliminate prejudice and just accept people for the human beings they are. Virginia sounds like a special and well-loved woman and you were blessed to cross paths with each other.

9:56 AM  

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