Monday, June 20, 2005

In praise of color blindness

Most of my life has been spent blissfully color blind when it comes to race. My parents would not allow us (me and my siblings) to use derogatory language aimed at a person's ethnicity. They said it was "wrong" or "bad" and that-was-that. We had to think up other arguments if we wanted to persist in belittling someone. Most of the time it wasn't worth the effort since we were just being stupid little freaks.

Either Mom and Dad weren't into the whole "protest march" thing, or couldn't because Dad worked in the intelligence field. They did something else: taught by example.

I couldn't have been more than 4 years old when Pop scared the crap out of me and ruined a trip to the Carnival. At least that was the memory I had until I grew out of stupid little freak mode. Pop became incensed at a carny-worker who refused to allow a black child on a ride and had called the boy one of the VERY BAD derogatory terms we were not allowed to use. Pop decked the maggot, said some non-racial bad language, and we swiftly left the carnival. Me in tears, of course. Pops don't make scenes like that?!?

Several years later he came to the dinner table in disgust and told us that he had resigned as the President of the neighborhood swim club. He'd told the other board members to go "Cheney" themselves because they were not going to allow a black family entry into the member's only association. This kind of bigotry got Pop's blood boiling, but he was always able to calmly describe to us stupid little freaks why he got mad.

His actions spoke louder than any protest sign. For my Pop, I will always be thankful for that. Happy Fathers Day, Pop!