Walking away is not an option... dialogue must prevail.

"A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
- Kenneth A. Wells

"I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace."
- Helen Keller

Saturday, April 5, 2008

this little light...

Tonight, my daughter "The Chicklet" (my sunshine) will be performing in a show her theater teacher has put on. This will not be her first foray on stage, but she's excited nonetheless and so am I.

She's doing a skit and they also have a song and dance number to The Beatles "Here Comes The Sun"... after the snow that fell yesterday it would be nice if the sun actually did finally make it to our little patch of earth.

When I visited my friend Doc and read his post about Martin Luther King and the memories he shared with us, I was reminded of my youth. A time when I too took to the stage to perform.

I grew up in a white neighbourhood, went to a white school and had very little direct contact with people of other ethnic backgrounds (except the Greek side of the family which doesn't really count as "other" and Mrs Lee at the Chinese restaurant). In our school, the "ethnic" kids were the handful of kids that came from the neighbouring Mohawk reservation.

Then one day, I met Mr. Charles Griffith.

My parents enrolled me in tap lessons you see (Mom even took some too), and Mr Griffith owned the school. I can't put my finger on how old I was when I started ( I may have been 5), but I remember meeting him and shaking his hand. He had, what seemed to me like a very large hand.

Mr. Griffith was a black man.

I observed him with great curiosity, looked at the palms of his hands, took notice of the texture of his hair and decided he had the best smile I'd ever seen. He was a genuinely nice man who was welcoming and exhuded warmth... I wondered about his skin tone as I observed and focused on his hands. I studied the differences between the colour of his palms, the creases in them, the tops of his hands, under his fingernails... I wondered what caused the difference. Was it like what happened to my skin in the summer time? My fascination lasted a few short minutes, which can seem like a long time, and is for a child so young. And then, I forgot about it. I figured it was like having different hair colour and then I started wondering when I'd get the tap shoes that made a lot of noise and never looked back.

My father taught me about tolerance. He believed in treating people with respect. What was important to him was whether or not someone was honest and hard working.

He was the son of immigrants to Canada... an Irish woman and a Greek man... who came thousands of miles from their respective countries with their very different languages and cultures.. met and fell in love.

My Papou and Grandma Mary raised a family together... five wonderful children. They instilled in their children a strong work ethic, a sense of civil duty and community. And an appreciation for tolerance and acceptance of others' differences.

My father and his brothers and sisters shared those values with us, the next generation... and the cycle continues.

It can be done, we can all get along... but we have to want to. Let the sun shine in babies...

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

It's all right

-- George Harrison


Charles Gramlich said...

Good luck to Chicklet.

I also had relatively little experience with black folks growing up, which is one reason I thought it would be interesting to teach at a primarily African American school.

Jeff B said...

When I was about ten years old we moved to a town in southern California that was predominately Mexican. In my clas of about thirty kids I was one of only two white kids. I was picked on and definitely part of the minority.

It was a very difficult year for me as I recall, but also one that gave me a firm foundation in understanding tolerance for those that our society wants to lable as different.

Good luck to Chicklet tonight.

barbara said...

Salut Anndi,
I think that I was very lucky to have grown up in a multiculural State. I was raised in Hawaii, where you have all different ethnic groups and all possible mixes.
As it is when you move away, you feel the differences.But, I have kept many things from Hawaii.
It's great to have learned from this tolerance and respect for the other who is different than oneself.

But, one's parents and peers also play an important role.
Like very often,, tolerance begins at home.

buffalodickdy said...

I've always said, race, colour, or creed only separates the ignorant from the rest of humanity...

Akelamalu said...

I used to love going to my kids concerts at school, I'm sure Chicklet will do well.

This is a lovely post about tolerance Anndi. x

Anndi said...

Charles: She did GREAT!
Isn't wonderful when the teacher also learnes?

Jeff: She thrived and had fun. Thanks for the well wishes.
That dificult year helped shape you into the amazing dude you are now. Hugs

Barbara: I believe you were lucky. But I think it's about what you're taught. And although I didn't have much contact, my experiences were positive and that goes a long way towards shaping someone.

Buff: Well said! As Always!

Akelamalu: She did a great job and had fun. She wants to sign up for more!
Thank you.. hugs xoxo

Desert Songbird said...

I hope Chicklet had fun.

I grew up the minority in a very white neighborhood. Some were not very kind to me, and it shaped me into the person I am today. My parents taught me to be strong in the face of bigotry, to be proud of who I am, and to never, EVER disgrace their name so as to give my detractors ammunition.

Meribah said...

Your father was a very smart man, me thinks. :)

Ron said...

What wonderful post, Anndi!

I love how you said that family "values" continue the cycle through each generation.


Thank you for sharing these great photos, too. I so enjoy looking at images from the past. There's something so wonderful about b&w photos, isn't there?

Hey...and the one of you in your tap shoes is priceless!

Your family sounds very "special."

Anndi said...

songbird: She LOVED her experience!

I think one of the things that shaped my views were the positive experiences... You parents did a great job.

Meri: he still is.. yup!

Ron: Thank you dear... I'm very proud of the heritage my grandparents left, and it should go on.

I have quite a few B&Ws and some I unfortunately don't know the background story of. Many were found after Mom passed, so I try and make up stories to go along with them.

Yeah.. the tap shoes and the curls. Don't you love that outfit? LOL

Special is a word that describes my family fairly accurately LOL