Skin color was irrelevant in our home

My oldest son texted me last night about the George Floyd murder. So I picked up the phone so that we could talk about the evil of RACISM. During our conversation, I shared a couple of personal stories from my childhood that I thought he already knew, but he didn’t. Here they are.

Story No. 1- When I was nine yrs old, I played Little League baseball for the C. R. Hoover team here in Pampa. We practiced at Hobart Street Park. My dad drove me to practice on the first day, we were early like we always were. When we arrived, one player was already there, Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the 12-yr-olds on the team. I walked over to him, introduced myself and we sat down on the ground and began to talk. He had a large sack with him that his mom had given him. She worked as a cook at a nearby café and sent him to practice with a sack full of French fries to share. He offered me some and I was thrilled. As we both were chowing down on fries, another player arrived. Nathaniel offered him some fries, but he declined. As each player arrived, Nathaniel would offer them some of the fries as well. All declined. As far as I was concerned it just meant more fries for Nathaniel and me.

One day after I was all grown up, I was sharing that story with someone and it hit me. As a kid, I never saw the racism in the French fries, just more for me. All of a sudden I couldn’t talk. I finally realized that those other kids refused to eat the fries because Nathaniel was black. How hateful and mean that was. Then I wondered why I didn’t see that as a kid. Then something else hit me: in the home I grew up in “skin color was irrelevant”. We didn’t use the “N” word and I can’t ever remember my dad or mom talking disrespectfully about any someone of a different color. Now “behavior” was a different story. My dad had no problem tearing into people’s foolish behavior, regardless of their color, and talking to me about it.

Story No. 2- My mom’s parents lived in Alpine, California, so I rarely saw them. One year, when I was about 10 yrs old. we took the train to visit them. I loved riding on the trains when I was a kid. A few minutes after we boarded, I made a bathroom stop. When I entered there was a black boy in there, probably 12-13 yrs old. We said Hi to each other, then I noticed that he wasn’t using the bathroom or washing his hands; I thought that was strange. Since it was really boring sitting with mom and dad, I asked him if he would like to come and sit with me. He told me he couldn’t, that he had to stay in the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what that meant. So when I walked out I told dad about him. Dad and I returned to the bathroom and dad checked him out. I asked dad if I could stay in the bathroom so the boy and I could visit and play cards. Dad gave his approval. So we began playing cards and talking up a storm in the bathroom. The men/boys who entered gave us both weird looks, we thought that was funny. When lunch time arrived, dad brought two lunches. I smiled at dad and thanked him for bring two. Again confirmation that color was irrelevant in our home. I stayed there the whole day. We talked, played cards and talked some more. Then supper time arrived. Again dad brought two meals; I smiled at dad again. Finally, when bedtime arrived, dad came and told me I have to leave the bathroom and go to bed. Again I asked the boy if he would like to share my sleep area. He declined. When I woke up the next morning, I ran to the bathroom and there he was. So we started talking again. About that time dad came in and told me that we had arrived at our stop and it was time to leave. I told the boy good-bye and never saw him again.

LORD, thank You, that I grew up in a home where skin color was irrelevant.

Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at pawdad@nts-online.net.

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