Today’s guest blogger is my wife, Sylvia Kirkendoll, who shares her observations of how racial injustice has changed so little in her lifetime.
This is not new. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. The only thing that should shock anyone is that rioting still seems to be a necessary last resort because things have changed so little.
Sure, many laws and regulations have changed. Opportunities have opened. We elected a President who is a man of color. But those are only a start. The cancer was treated enough to reduce its outward symptoms for a time but It is still there. Far too many people are infected with the same bigotries as their grandparents and parents and continue to pass the disease to their children and grandchildren.
It’s usually not quite so blatant as it was in 1971 when buses of black children arriving at the previously all-white junior high school I attended were greeted with jeers and epithets spewing from angry white parents.
I’d like to say things have changed since 1978 when I watched a friend save a toddler’s life by snatching her from the path of a bus, only to have the parents react in horror that a black man had the temerity to put his hands on their child.
I’d like to say things have changed since 1967 when a neighbor called my mother to warn her that a young black man was trying to sell magazines door-to-door. At the time the call came, Mom was fixing the young man a cup of coffee and they were talking about his plans for college and eventually law school. Mom told the neighbor that no, she’d damned well better not call the police
I’d like to say that things have changed since the time the evening news played alternating clips of protests, riots, and white folks blaming it all on agitators who just want to make trouble. Mom went ballistic that time. “It’s a good thing I’m not a black man cause I sure wouldn’t live long. I’d take a gun and kill as many of the white bastards as I could before they got me.” That was more than 50 years ago, but it could be today.
Picnicking while black. Jogging while black. Birding while black. Gardening in your front yard while black. Taking out the trash while black. Vacationing while black. It’s just a variation on the same old theme: selling magazines while black, saving a child’s life while black, attending school while black, and on and on and on.
“…I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. … And so in a real sense, our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.” 1967 – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sylvia Kirkendoll is an artist, photographer, singer, and private pilot. She works for a title company as Manager of Strategic Analytics and is married to David Mercer.
2 thoughts on “This Is Not New”
I believe Sylvia and I are first cousins, and since I have no other way to really contact her right now, I’d like to just thank her for posting the pictures of our Grandmother Macie Lee Ross Kirkendoll. My Mother was also Macie Lee Kirkendoll and was the sister of Owen David Kirkendoll, Sylvia’s Father.
We’ve only had one other picture of our Grandmother, so again. Thank you.
As a side note: As a young child I witnessed our Grandfather OD Sr., while umpiring a boys baseball game, call a distinguished looking black man dressed in a suit and tie, “‘Boy.” The black man was a Doctor who had come to aid of a seriously injured white boy on third base. The black Doctor absorbed the insults my Grandfather extended to him to be able to help the injured boy. I was standing right there starring up into my Grandfather’s eyes, and innocently pointed to the black Doctor and said, “Grandpa, he’s not a boy.” The look I got from my Grandfather and others gave me my first realization of blind prejudice and I lost all respect for him. He looked down at me and knew it.
I’m not sure I ever had the opportunity to meet your Mother, but I admire her taking a stand as she did, and raising all of you so wisely.
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Bonita, I’ll pass this onto her. She is in facebook… are you? You can also email me at email@example.com.