Saturday, July 4, 2020

Colonials.




"COLONIAL"

It's being spray-painted across a lot of statues these days, including but not limited to George Washington's. 

George was, of course, the most anti-colonial of colonials. The men who fought to liberate the colonies from British rule risked absolutely everything to do so. 

I have ancestors who were among those men. On one branch of the family, brothers took different sides and the elder, a redcoat colonel, ended up preventing the execution of his captured rebel sibling (my many-times-great-grandfather). I am here by his grace, in this country, in this place and time, you might say. 

In another branch of the family, my ancestors were apparently true colonials, loyal enough to the crown to flee to Canada and wait things out, sipping their tea and glancing down to see when it might be a good time to circle back. (It's interesting to ponder what might have happened had we remained British colonies.)

"Colonial" conjures images of smug Brits being carried on the backs of native women. (This wasn't uncommon in the colonies of the Empire. It's ugly, but it's history.) We were British colonies, and we carried a lot on our backs, metaphorically, until we got tired of it in 1776 and decided we could determine our own, better way of life for all.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Two hundred and forty-four years of the greatest experiment in human freedom is marked today. A country in which, for better or for worse, people of all colors and creeds and religions have come together to make their contributions to society. Make no mistake, they are some of the most glorious and diverse contributions in the history of the world.


A turbulent history gave birth to and developed The United States of America, and I still love her, warts and all. I love my friends and fellow Americans of all colors, and celebrate them.

We are together on this journey, and we have come so very far. Many, many persons of color are among the most accomplished and successful of our country in 2020. We are truly grateful for that.  

And, because the vast majority of Americans are goodhearted people, we want even better for every single one of us. We are an exceptional country.  

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better, and we will do better. Two hundred and forty four years have taught us the lessons we need to know and remember. 

The hopes and dreams our ancestors held for us are woven into those lessons. Including my distant grandfather's, and I thank him for freedom and the opportunity to succeed in these beautiful United States of America.











Love from Delta.








Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mrs. Storey



   Let me tell you where my heart and mind wandered when I read about the murder of George Floyd.

   You can’t avoid a frank discussion of racism in America in the face of this horror. There is no telling yourself we have abandoned this hideous relic of the past, that dust and cobwebs grow on its antiquated surface. 
   Not when the rest of it is so violently displayed, fresh and bitter, in the form of a knee on the neck of a handcuffed man.
   I don’t know what crime George Floyd was charged with. I haven’t investigated it, because nothing he could have done would merit this complete abandonment of human civility. Nothing could possibly counterbalance the sheer brutality of the Minneapolis police officer demonstrating his dominance over his captive, helpless prisoner.

   So, back to where this image leads me: to Annie Storey.
   When Mrs. Storey came to teach my sixth grade class in Weaver, Alabama, she did it at a time when black women didn’t teach white children in small towns. 
   We were kids, oblivious to the challenges she must have faced until we considered them years later.
   She was young and beautiful and so gifted at fascinating children with the solar system and European geography, we were spellbound. She was my favorite teacher. Many of my fellow students felt (and feel) the same.
   We loved her. We search for her to this day. 
   Mrs. Storey wasn’t our African-American teacher. 
   She wasn’t our black teacher. 
   She was our captivating and wonderful teacher, who commanded our respect and admiration every day.

   Annie Storey never said one word about racism, about not judging people by their skin color, about any of the segregationist sentiment that dominated Alabama at the time.
   She walked into our humble classroom every day in her fashionable A-line dresses, smiled at us with the warmth of that sun she showed us on the chart by the blackboard, and taught us we are all the same.
   So many years have passed. I remember her with love and enormous gratitude.
   I've memorialized her in two books with a character, Lily, inspired by her beauty and dignity.
   And I hope wherever she is, Annie Storey didn’t see what just happened in Minneapolis.
   
   It would break her heart.







Love from Delta.