My grandfather was a hard man – a very hard man. He loved me and my brother, but he made it very clear who he didn’t.
And he wasn’t gentle, even with us. I endured a lot of jokes at my expense, and I’m sure my brother did too – comments about my hair or clothes, all said with a laugh and designed to gIve the other adults in the room a laugh.
And it wasn’t always about color. We lived through a lot of comments about backgrounds, education, size, ‘intelligence’ about others.
My grandmother in particular would occasionally step in with ‘nod toward us and say, ‘Ed the children’. He loved her dearly, so it would stop. For the moment.
My mother in particular would explain later ‘that granddaddy had grown up in a different time’ and how this was ‘bad’. But I knew from the reactions of the others in the room when it was happening, that regardless of when he had grown up, it was bad.
I don’t know what would or wouldn’t have happened in my development having that influence in my background if I hadn’t also been given the gift of height.
In my time – and I’m not sure why, perhaps it made it easier for the teacher to see us all? – but I remember being lined up for various activities by height. Which put me in the back, with mostly boys, several of whom were black. And most of whom I remain in some kind of contact to this day.
Now I am a believer in the fact that children aren’t born being influenced by color. I watch my little guy on the play ground, and they ALL just accept each other as CHILDREN, but I also believe that even without influence, we all tend to migrate to what is most familiar, so I know that growing up tall put me in a unique position to grow a different level of comfortable with those outside my own race.
I remember them accepting me. I remember laughing. And I remember getting in trouble for being the one who couldn’t stop talking in line. (I know y’all are shocked).
And I remember growing more and more horrified by my grandfather’s views.
So here again, I’ve gone long in making my point, so let’s drill this down. It is even the SMALLEST of influences that can make the GREATEST impact. So inasmuch as I would love to tell you my family felt strong enough to push back hard against this hard man, I cannot. But I can tell you that what they were able to do in those moments kept my young mind open to accept children different from myself as being equal.
And does that give us the immediate change being demanded today? No, but it does help reinforce the long term POSITIVE impact of what I believe in my heart is coming.
So if for whatever reason you can’t separate yourself from whatever negative influence in your life Sunshine, don’t discount your own. Speak up when you can, however you can, even if it is after the fact.
Plant those seeds now and nurture them well as best you are able – for it is through our little people we solidify the change we want and very much need to see in this world.
Amen and Namaste.
See you when you get here ❤
This post first appeared on The Painted Mermaid‘s Facebook page and is posted here by permission. Amy is the author of 10 Little Rules for Mermaids.