Why can’t you play at my house?

There are things I know to be true.

Love is love.  Love is important.  Love is life

Hate is ….  I guess I can’t think of a word bad enough to describe it.  Evil.  Dark.  Destructive.

I know my family loves me.  My children and my Prairie love me unconditionally.

I know my extended family “love” me.  I am not quite as certain it is unconditional.  Maybe they just think I am delusional.  The last few months have been difficult with them.  Losing my sister was very rough.  I experienced prejudice from family and it hurt.  My beliefs – political and religious- are different than theirs.  I accept this as integral to a positive relationship without judging them.  Some have shown they do not feel the same toward me.

Today, I took to task the idea of hate.  I posted on Facebook a very serious question regarding privilege and Colin Kaepernick.  For the most part it was a civil discussion.  For that, in light of the facebook world, I am grateful.  I learned a hard truth.

Those that refuse to see that racism is real, may never see it is real.  I saw in responses from some individuals was that any reason to avoid the message that hate fuels racism is accepted.

Be angry that standing during a musical piece did not happen, ignore the message why.  Refocus the issue to be a slight to those who served in the military protecting the right to sit and protest.  But whatever you do, do NOT address the reason the protest happened.  Racism is real.  Be offended by the protest actions, ignore the message why.  Racism is real.  Be offended that the protester is rich, ignore the message why.  Racism is real.

When I was in third grade in Ft. Walton Beach Florida in 1968, my best friend at school had dark skin.  She could draw so beautifully, I gave her my crayons just to watch what she could create.  She had ebony skin, white teeth and hair that would do anything it wanted.  Mine was straight straight straight and almost colorless blonde.  I wanted her hair.  I wanted her to teach me how to draw.  I wanted to sit next to her at lunch.

I would invite her over to my house A LOT.  Daily.  Come play, let’s make art, let’s be friends.  She always declined with a bit of sadness.  I told her that my mom could drive, it would be fun.  Finally she said “we can only be friends at school.  I can’t come over to your house after school.  Your people don’t like me because of my skin.”

Your people don’t like me because of my skin.  In third grade.  Eight years old.  Your people don’t like me because of my skin.  I am now 48 years older than I was then.  I can still hear her words.  My heart breaks for the loss of friendship, for the tragedy of hate in her life.  To grow up feeling like you had to choose limited or no friendship “because of my skin”.

I have carried her words my entire life since then.  I will carry them always.  They are my mantra as I work to understand how I can change the little bits that build a barrier between two small girls who wanted to be friends.

So if Colin Kaepernick wants to sit during the National Anthem at a football game (at which the avarice is for another topic) to scream silently in a peaceful non-violent protest about systemic, institutionalized racism in this country that I love, that my many family members dedicated their sacred honor to, I will not fault him.  I will honor their sacrifices to this country in distress and ask the why?  I will engage in conversations to say “what can we do to make a change?”  I will work to elect individuals who will legislate to level those barriers.  I will lobby for funding for programs, services, and education.  I will say BlackLivesMatter.  I will say change begins with me.