When I was in grade school at Stanley Elementary in Tacoma, each year I would bring my class photo home. After the second year photograph my mom would comment about me always having my photograph taken standing next to a tall black girl named Virginia.
We were always arranged by height. We were the tallest in the class, so we ended up standing next to each other. Virginia was a nice person, but she didn’t read very well and I was a voracious reader, so we weren’t friends.
I couldn’t figure out why Virginia was such a bother to my mother. It was only years later that I put two and two together. I was born in Nevada, Missouri where my mother and father grew up. In visits there I only saw white people.
It wasn’t until I heard stories of my dad and uncle hunting squirrels and rabbits together after World War II that I understood. They sold the dead animals to a black woman. The word black wasn’t used. In her later years, my mother had a friend named Mary who was black. She loved her dearly, but when talking about her, she whispered the words “She’s black.” I would just shake my head and say, “I know . . . I know.”
“For 175 years, the Smithsonian has embraced the notion that America’s shared past and present shape its collective future.”
I agree with the Smithsonian’s reasoning that our history of race and racism touches nearly every American. “All Americans have race, culture and traditions; all Americans inherit a complex racial past and live in a world shaped by its legacy.” I find the fact that many of our states forbid the teaching about race and its history, which really seems to be a counter-productive path on top of our latest census showing a downward trend of people declaring they are white.
“The first summit, on the topic of race and wellness, will be held on August 26 at 7 p.m. ET.”
For more information, please visit – Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past – Summit.