Blacks in white company
I majored in accounting at Wayne State University in Detroit. I remember my professor telling us black students, “Don’t expect to get a job at a white accounting firm. All the employees are white. And furthermore, these white accounting firms are afraid they might lose clients if they became aware that a black person was working on their accounts.” He advised us, “Get a job with the federal government or the City.” I went to work for Detroit’s Water Dept.
I just can’t help you
My wife was born deaf. She and I have joint credit cards at Target. When the monthly bill comes in, we simply write a check. Last month the local store phoned to inform us that they had a question about an item on her credit card. I explained, “My wife is deaf and is not able to talk on the phone. So please tell me what your question is.” They replied that they had to speak directly to her and requested us to come to the store. “We can’t help you over the phone.” I explained that I had Power of Attorney and all the other powers which might be necessary, and that over the 30 years of our marriage I had handled similar requests. But no, they insisted that we come to the store and speak with the person who handles credit card questions. So we drove to the store and met with the Target official. At the end of our conversation, she turned to me and my wife and said, “Sorry but I can’t help you.” I replied, “What do you mean by that?’ She looked at my deaf wife and said, “I simply can not help you.”
I am a lesbian, 35, and happily married to Marie. A few years ago, Marie, my father and I were walking in a park when suddenly my father fell and was unable to get up. We called for an ambulance and I rode with my father in the ambulance to the hospital. Marie followed in our car. Dad was rushed to the Emergency Room and soon a nurse informed me that he was seriously ill. Marie, my husband, rushed to my side to comfort me. She hugged and kissed me. I observed that just a few yards away a heterosexual couple evidently had also received bad news because they too were hugging each other and crying. Suddenly a hospital Security Guard approached us and yelled, “Stop that! You two will have to leave!” He never approached the other couple.
No black girls
I’m a black guy who joined the Air Force right out of high school during the Korean War in the early 1950’s. They sent me to an air base in Biloxi, Mississippi, a long way from my northern home. One night a few of my white comrades invited me to join them as they were leaving for a night on the town. The first place we visited was the USO Club, a place where young ladies came to meet and dance with servicemen. We hadn’t been there 15 minutes when a young lady approached me to say, “Sorry, but you’ll have leave. We don’t have any black girls here.”
Winning the battle
I often think of my parents as “founding, card carrying members of the greatest generation.” My maternal grandfather was a Polish peasant who was conscripted into the Russian army like many other young Poles. This was before the Soviet Union even existed; Russia never changes no matter what it calls itself. (See Putin.) My grandfather got very ill and was sent home on convalescent leave. When he recovered, his father gave him enough money so that he could desert and come to America. My mom cleaned houses during the depression to help the family. My paternal grandfather’s father was a railroad worker in Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia. They were poor. They had a few chickens, a cow, etc. for food, but no shoes. In the winter they stood in cow manure to get some warmth.
During WWII my mom stayed home with me while my dad was in Europe, winning the Silver Star on Omaha Beach. He was gone for 36 months and arrived home unannounced. I still remember that day.
Then they raised 4 children and sent all of us to private school and college by working, literally, day and night. Now, both my son and my brother’s son went to the London School of Economics for their junior year of college. Things have changed for us, but if we were a minority we might never have shared in the American Dream.
When I was a young black girl in an integrated fifth grade in southern Pennsylvania, our teacher suggested that we exchange Christmas presents. She asked each of us to write our name on a piece of paper. Then she went up and down each row of desks and asked us to drop our paper in a hat she borrowed from one of the students. A few days later she said, “I put all your names in a hat and as I walk by your desk, please pull out a name.” She suggested that each of us consider giving that person a simple present at a Christmas party she would plan. When I got home that day, my mother asked me whose name I had drawn. “Oh, she’s a very nice black girl!” A few days later, she said, “I’ve been talking to a few of the mothers and it seems that all you black kids have drawn the name of another black boy or girl. What a coincidence!” It turned out not to be a coincidence. Somehow, my teacher had arranged it so that all the white boys and girls gave each other presents. And the same for all us black kids! Were there two hats? One black and another white? Some integration!
I was working in Chicago when Polaroid Corp. offered me a job at their new manufacturing plant in Greater Boston. It was a big move for me, a black man, but the pay was exceptional. I supervised about 16 people in four departments. I thought everything was going along smoothly until the day I discovered that someone slashed all four tires on my new car.
You might remember the 1967 Detroit Riots; they were devastating. It seemed that the entire city was going up in flames. Building after building, street after street-everything was going up in flames. My dad’s building was right in the path of the gangs setting fire to everything. We thought all was lost when we drove out to inspect our loss. As far as we could see every building on the street was burned to the ground. Except dad’s! Everything approaching dad’s building was burned. And everything beyond dad’s building was burned. But they skipped right by dad’s building. Why? Well you see, our building was located in a white neighborhood but we were blacks. Good, kind, caring blacks. And everybody knew it.
Beating up Tony
This is a true story my mother told me. My father had a cousin named Tony. Tony was gay. Not just gay, but very effeminately gay. Makeup, nail polish, dyed hair. He was the youngest of four boys and the son of a very macho father. When he was growing up, his older brothers often beat him up.
Later in life, when Tony’s mother became very ill, it was Tony who cared for her until she died and it was during that time that his brothers and his father finally looked beyond the makeup, etc. and saw a good and loving person.
Mary, New York
“We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence.” – Sam Harris
“People can only live fully by helping others to live. When you give life to friends, you truly live. – Dalsaku Ikeda
“A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If abuses are to be destroyed, it is man who must destroy them. If slaves are to be freed, it is man who must free them. If new truths are to be discovered, it is man who must discover them. If the naked are to be clothed, if the hungry are to be fed, if justice is to be done, if superstition is to be driven from the mind, if the defenseless are to be protected, all must be the work of man.” – Robert G. Ingersoll
Church Bulletin Announcements…
Thursday night—Potluck supper. Prayer and meditation to follow. For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
This afternoon there will be meetings in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.