Racism, What is it Good For?
Wow! Doesn't that sound formal! My opinions are so profound, they must be divided into PARTS! Maybe I should stop now. Nah...
When I was a child in California, back in the 'fifties, racial prejudice was rampant and open. There was no such thing as "political correctness." The shit just flew. I was fortunate to have parents who may have had some prejudices, but they weren't necessarily negative, and they definitely weren't hostile. My dad worked in the steel mill, alongside men of many different ethnic backgrounds, including "colored." He was friends with at least one black man that I remember, mainly because of the following incident. Dad brought Charlie home for dinner one evening. My little sister, Judy, was two years old and very cute and engaging. As Daddy and Charlie were sitting at the table talking, Judy was standing nearby and staring at Charlie. Charlie started talking to her and she was all smiles. He picked her up and sat her on his lap. She reached up to his face and wiped her hand across his cheek, and then looked at her palm. At first, the adults wondered what she was doing. Then she did it again, and looked puzzled when there was nothing on her palm. Then everyone burst out laughing, realizing that she thought the color on his brown cheek was painted on! There was no animosity on the part of anyone involved. It was just funny and innocent.
My mother also had black friends now and then, depending where we lived. Most neighborhoods were segregated, but the lines of demarcation were sometimes fuzzy, so we occasionally had black and Mexican neighbors. I remember one "colored" friend of Mom's that I am grateful to. My sisters and I had contracted a lively case of pinworms. Maybell gave Mom a recipe for a thick, dark syrup containing lots of garlic. We were given a few doses of that syrup and Voila! Pinworms were history.
The only thing that bothers me now is remembering that both parents and their families used the "N-word" freely. They didn't call colored people ni**ers, but they used the term sometimes. The only things I remember right now is their term for Brazil nuts - "ni**er toes" and the child's verse, "Eeny, meeny, miny moe. Catch a ni**er by the toe, etc." Remember that, any of you other geezers out there? I know there were lots of other references, but I can't remember them. When I had my children, Brazil nuts were only called Brazil nuts and I changed the second line of "eeny meeny" to "catch a tiger by the toe." The kids were teenagers before they heard the original verse.
Hell's bells. I guess there's going to have to be a Part III. I'm too sleepy to finish now.