Keep Smiling with Rosie Preston: Racism where you least expect it

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By Rosie Preston

The word “racism” is mentioned daily in our newspapers, television and online computer accounts. The following is a true story about a different kind of separation, or judgment, that has not often been mentioned of a certain color or nationality. There are distinct characteristics of an individual who was ostracized. These are memories of a once-upon-a-time little girl.

The signs outside the water fountains and public restrooms were labeled as “colored” and “white.” Colored people could not sit in a restaurant downtown. Was it really against the law? Of course it was. The girl noticed the signs and was taught to fear persons whose color of skin was darker than hers.

I hope you can understand that we are all guilty of racism in many ways. There was a little girl who, from an early age, was told by her grandparents and parents that she was pretty. She learned how to walk like a lady and her mother curled her hair every time she washed it. The girl often was complimented because her hair was thick and curly. She loved to appease people, so she would hold up her head, throw her shoulders back and hold up her dress as would a famous person as she swayed across her front porch. The little girl felt pretty and sweet and loved for just who she was, a little girl lucky enough to have a family that loved her.

As years pass, however, children get older and have their own characteristics and beliefs about life.

The girl turned six years of age and entered first grade. Back then, it would have been called a “country” school. The other schools in her county were known as “city” schools. The girl really didn’t think much about it until one day when her parents bought a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood. When we moved into their new house, the girl was so happy to find that the rooms were big, and she especially loved her room she shared with her younger sister.

After graduating sixth grade, it was time for the girl to transfer to a middle school. She felt so alone as she waited for her teacher to assign her a desk. She looked around at the other little girls and immediately changed, because she knew she was different. It was not the color of her skin; it was because her new classmates were not friendly. Much like the saying of “Birds of a feather stick together,” the new girls all wore name-brand clothes and shoes to match. The girls had one pair of shoes for winter and one pair of shoes and sandals for summertime.

The girl walked with her head down most of the time, and her voice began to quiver if she had to speak in class. She never had the courage to give an oral report, because her knees would knock together and her voice would shake.

This situation can be strongly associated with racism, and the girl was in a different income bracket. Pain comes from so many other life situations, even though the little girl soon found a few little girls just like her. She knew she belonged and realized that that her girl group and the girl group which never spoke or brought her into a conversation were always going to be there wherever she went.

It was even more evident when both groups attended the same church and the girl felt rejected there also. Isn’t this description a different type of racism? It was just as serious and painful to the girl, but helped her learn empathy, kindness, and love.

Friends, remember there are always obstacles and know that each person has his or her own life stories of pain, rejection and lack of confidence.

Doesn’t the Bible instruct us about overcoming obstacles? Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 says, “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

You may have lived a roller-coaster type lifestyle, or you may be one of those blessed people who found their own way and did not waver. Whatever the past of your life, today is a great day to begin to believe in a faith much greater than yourself.

Keep smiling, Rosie

Please e-mail me at rosie.preston@yahoo.com if you would like to share a story.

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