When I was a child, we didn’t think it was black discrimination.
As a tiny tot, my mom read a book to me about Little Black Sambo.
When kids didn’t know how to make a decision, or how to choose, we said “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, catch a ni**er by his toe!” Sorry, I just can’t make myself say that word, or even type it.
When we bought a package of mixed nuts to serve our company in the holiday season, the Brazil nuts were called, “ni**er toes.”
My cousins went to Alabama to visit with their aunt and uncle and cousins, and returned to joke about separate drinking fountains down south for whites and blacks.
And things didn’t improve when I grew up.
One of my first bosses, at a Christian radio station that featured predominately religious programming, urged me to persuade an elderly man on the staff to polish my car for me. He said he could make it shine “like a ni**er’s heel!”
As late as the 1990s, a devout co-worker was referring to African Americans with the derogatory phrase “jungle bunnies.”
As a church organ salesman, trying to persuade the chairman of an ultra conservative church's music committee to drive to a certain neighborhood where he could hear one of our recent installations, he demurred, saying that there were a lot of “coons” in that area.
All of that garbage was quickly erased when my life was changed, in years to follow, in such a profound way by these African Americans who, I swear, walked on holy ground: gospel singer Alma James Perry; the Rev. Cy Young; Maurice Carter; The Rev. Rodney Gulley; the James Family Singers; and many, many more.
Black History Month is precious to me. So are the names of every African American whose life has intersected with mine. Especially the very long list of my black friends behind bars.
In February, 2017, please join me in this prayer, created by the Diocesan Commission to end racism:
“ One God, in Three Persons, creator of one human species, in many hues: all who pray to you are descendants of Adam and Eve, all members of one race called “human.” Forgive the blindness that causes our eyes to notice and magnify those things we regard as different from ourselves in others. Teach us to see clearly, that we, your children, are far more alike than we are different. Help us to put aside the racial prejudices embedded within us, and to see within every person the Child of God you created, our sister or brother, destined for Glory. In the name of One who died for all persons, of all colors, Jesus Christ.”