Freedom from "passed down" prejudices

We can't afford to bow down to or be bowed down by racial prejudice. There's so much to find out about the real nature of each one of us.

I don't think I ever met a black child while I was growing up. If I did, I don't remember it. I grew up in a large suburb where, as far as I know, to this day there are no black families living. I remember a time when I had to stay home from school because there were riots going on downtown. The National Guard was called in. My parents kept a handgun near their bed, and we could hear distant gunshots coming from the city. After that we never went downtown at night and only occasionally during the day.

There was a black woman who took care of the children in our family. I loved her dearly and would run home from school at lunchtime, expectant of her gentle welcome. I remember what a hard worker she was and how she always sang while she worked. But there were confusing "jokes" now and then at the dinner table—not about her, but about black people in general. And there was talk about town ordinances to "keep them out."

January 18, 1988

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