11.19.2009

I'll Never Understand

I was reading a blog post yesterday that Jenny Doh had written. If you get a chance, I encourage you to go read it. She wrote about what it was like to move here from Korea as a child, and what she experienced. I started thinking about prejudiced people all over again which I never understand in that people are just people, regardless, you know? Discrimination, being something that I personally despise, always gets my attention and I think that is what Jenny's blog did yesterday. I think it is something we should never forget about. As a child, I listened to my mom tell me stories about growing up in East Texas during the Depression. She would tell me about all the poor black people that would come to her mom & dad's back door begging for food. And although my mom's family had very little, they always helped. When I was in high school, through a youth group at church, I started going down to the Cocopah Indian reservation near Yuma, Arizona, close to the Mexico border. We would go down at Christmas with presents for the kids and clothes for the adults. This was my first real experience with poverty, and discrimination. The Cocopah's lived in horrible conditions. The winters down there are extremely cold as the summers can get up to 120 degrees.(in case you are wondering, I'm the blonde in the pictures above) And right across from where the Cocopah reservation was, on the other side of the canal were farms growing crops and families living in nice homes. It was such a contrast for me, even at a young age.This project went on through the church for a couple of years, and then the church got a new youth Pastor that didn't approve of the project so it ended. What did I learn from that, well, discrimination is everywhere, including our churches. I won't even get into Prop 8's defeat today and churches. That is a different soap box blog.I've written about this before, but I went to college at Cal State University Fullerton, and majored in Sociology and minored in American Studies. One summer myself, and a friend that was in law school, and his brother decided to spend a summer in Somerton in an old farm labor camp. One of the guys was doing a paper for law school, and I was going to do research for an American Studies class. I have no idea what my parents thought, but I do know they knew they couldn't stop me. I remember people saying to be "careful", I never quite understood the whys of that statement. But being very blonde and white, that was the reason. There were a few times I felt the discrimination, but not that often. It is a good lesson in life that I learned from. The Cocopahs lived in extreme poverty. We were invited to dinner at our friends "home" one time. Basically, the houses were made from salvaged tin and cardboard. Inside it was as clean as it could get considering it was a dirt floor with scrap plywood here and there used as a floor. The dinner was delicious, but I'll never forget in the middle of dinner a huge rat appeared. The youngest of the family, Lonnie, jumped up from the table and grabbed a big knife and stabbed it! I don't quite remember my reaction, maybe I've blocked it out, but it must have got my attention since I still remember the incident today. I was never able to go back after that trip to visit, but we kept in touch through letters. And sadly, I can't locate the pictures I took from that summer either. I had always told my kids as they grew up about that special summer, and happily one day, one of Lonnie's sisters came out to see me with her kids that got to meet my kids! An unforgettable memory for me that I always hold close to my heart. I will never, ever understand how people can be so prejudiced towards others that they don't even know. And sadly, I still see this happen daily. I understand so clearly why the gay community chose the rainbow to represent their pride. My own sister is gay, so I'm not a stranger to the discrimination that all of my gay friends go through. It's funny, I took that picture while I was on the reservation one time. The guy with the long hair is gay, although back then it wasn't discussed. And as look at the picture of the rainbow, and of the Cocapah little boy pointing at it, I clearly see the meaning of the rainbow! Not sure how I ended up being in a retail business for myself for almost twenty years now. But the one thing I love, it has been a means, a way to give back to the world when I can. I've always known Country Roads was "different" than other stores, but maybe it is because we all care about the world we live in, we are a family with big hearts. We all really need to work on making it a better world for our kids and grandkids. We give away the bumper stickers that say, "Because Nice Matters", and it really does! And thanks Jenny for reminding about the important things in life! Maybe we can all make it a better world for everyone. Just like John Lennon, "Maybe I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one"!

5 comments:

Tanza said...

Very cool Sue,
What better thing can we do .. give back to others that are soo less fortunate .. It always makes me feel so blessed to do so, especially at this time of year !! I LoVe your bumper stickers that say " because nice matters !! I have this hanging on a bulletin board at home .. Hoping you have a wonderful day Sue .. It's soo beautiful outside as well !!
hugs ~tea~ xo

Debbie's Garden said...

Very well put! The connection to Jenny's page doesnt work though. I find I come across people who talk the talk, but dont walk the walk on discrimination.

Jenny Doh said...

Bravo.

Moonlight Hollow Musings said...

I am so appreciative that you had those experiences in your youth, because those experiences of your youth make you who you are today! I am so proud that you are my bff!

Malisa

Maureen said...

I'm new to your blog and just wanted to say that I agree wholeheartedly. I will never understand discrimination. Whatsoever.