Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My first experience with discrimination

I'm transsexual, but this has nothing to do with that. I was around when there were "coloreds only" or "white only" signs. Seems so archaic now.

My grandfather was full blooded German. He had a temper that required someone else to be with him to keep that temper under control. Likewise his convictions on what he deemed right and wrong were just as intense. He practiced what he preached.

He worked doing masonry work, my father with him, and I rode with this day. His long time helper Sterling Samual was the only helper they needed for this job. Sterling was and still is my friend. I was 12, Sterling was about 20. The job was plastering a pool in Helena, Ark, one of the most racially phobic places I ever saw. Oh, did I fail to mention that Sterling is black?

So we get to the job which was a day only of cleaning up and doing the finishing touches. A little after noon, work done, it was decided that we all would go into town for a late lunch. We go into a nice cafe with maybe 8 people in the 40 chair dining room, sit and wait for the waitress to come take our order. But before she would come all hell breaks loose. A white woman complains,(screaming out of control!) to management that Sterling shouldn't be in this cafe, it was for whites only. My grandfather went ballistic! "God damnit, Sterling is my helper and he is going to eat with us!" 10 minutes of arguing, the sheriff was called, the argument nearly comes to punches being thrown. Sterling, trying to get my grandfather from going to jail, decides that he will eat in the kitchen. "Sterling is my friend. If he's going to eat in the kitchen so am I".
So here we go, back to the kitchen. When we get there, low and behold, there are 5 black ladies back there doing all the cooking! "How can a crazed white woman eat what a black cook can make but not let a black man eat in the same room?" My first lesson in bigotry.
That was the best, biggest, and most rewarding dinner I've ever eaten. And the lesson learned that day was far and away the most important lesson that has followed me throughout life.

Civil rights for ALL people!



Caroline said...

There is no such thing as equality until everyone gets included. Strange how this simple concept still has not sunk in...

Calie said...

I so agree. Nice post.