Reflection on History

I have given myself last few days since the election time to let the enormity of this historic event sink in. I was talking to my F about the excitement surrounding the election of Barack Obama as our 44th President and I told her how I felt the night We The People made history.

I was flipping from CNN to ABC to BBC and settled on WGN to watch Obama make his victory speech and I thought back and reflected on how far this country has come in the terms of racism and prejudice.

In the late sixties, my first real experience with racism came was when my Family was traveling to Florida. Florida still had its stronghold on discrimination practices in 1968 and could not seem to let go of Jim Crow. As our parent’s practice my brother Jim and I would check out menus at restaurants to see if the prices were good and the food was fair and report back to Mom and Dad.

I remember on one occasion that I will always remember is going into a restaurant and seeing a “Whites Only” section. Being around 8 years old I had no idea that this was the very tip of the cold and calculating iceberg of discrimination. I just thought it was wrong and I was angry.

The Wheaton College kids that called me a papist for wearing my Saint Michael’s school uniform and laughed at me as if their form of religion was superior. I hope that these ignorant kids grew up and learned tolerance.

I recalled filling out Social Security cards for my sons and pausing for a long time at the section “Caucasian” or “Asian” descent. I actually feared that what happened in the Forties could happen again and that I may be dooming my sons to any forms of discrimination due to their Japanese heritage. I marked “Asian” descent and vowed that no one would profile my child. I stood strong for my sons.

The babysitter’s husband that stated “My wife ain’t babysitting a “gook” baby.” I disdained this man.

The teachers that asked when I had “adopted” my son not believing a blond 6 foot woman could give birth to a beautiful son with Asian features. I stared with shock and disgust.

The Family Services of Wheaton that dissuaded my attempts at fostering a black child because I was white and could not “understand” the culture I wept for that child.

The boss that told me because I was a single mom of three, the job I had was the best I could ever do. I proved them wrong.

It is just not the African American population that suffers from racism, prejudice and bias. Although, they have suffered much of the brunt of this awful practice there are many colors and creeds that suffer silently as well.

I hope that this election of Barack Obama starts to change the way we treat one another. I will not give up hope for that.