Trying to write positive posts that are relevant to today’s interests has become a bit difficult for me. For inspiration, I turn to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary for the most looked up word of the week. Word #7 has been racism for a while now. Word #1 has been fascism for a couple of weeks. Word #9 empathy and Word #12 is love.
It makes me sad to see that the #1 word is fascism according to Webster’s. Why is that word so much on people’s minds as opposed to the word love? Uh, never mind, don’t answer that question. As for empathy, I have experienced this feeling this past week or so because a mom recently lost her 14 year old son during a heavy rainfall incident in California. I am a mom and I can imagine how she must have felt. I think this world could use more empathy. As for the word racism, my opinion is that this word will continue to be among the top ten words people look up in the dictionary.
Racism is an old word. It exists where you might not think it exists. My father and my mother experienced this in the late 1890s through the 1950s. Eddie, born in 1891 in Baltimore, Maryland experienced racism from infancy as a Black person in America. One thing about it though, Eddie did not let the harsh treatment of Blacks hamper his rise to success. His career began as a boy magician, he became a filmmaker, a Broadway and movie star, an old time radio icon and a composer. He remained courteous and he was known as a gentleman. He was proud of who he was as a man and he became one of the most beloved comedians of his time until his death in 1950.
My mother’s experiences were different. My grandmother was a very light skinned Black woman who chose to pass herself off as White. Spanish to be exact. My grandfather was Italian. My mother lived most of her life unsure about her heritage. She too was very light skinned. As an adult she chose to identify as Black. Unfortunately, sometimes in order to get a job my mother would apply as White and then would lose the job when it was discovered she was actually Black. Through the years after mom married a second time, her sister-in-law (a Black woman) who sold real estate would take mom with her to meet clients hoping the clients would see mom as White and would therefore be more interested in purchasing the property that was for sale. In later life mom told everyone who asked that she was a gypsy.
Within my own family racism existed. When my father Eddie would come to my grandmother’s house in Pasadena, California to visit my mother, Norma, my grandmother would make Eddie come in through the back door, because of course anybody could see that Eddie was Black. As you can see from the picture above this did not stop Eddie’s progress. He married my mother during the latter half of 1945. By then he had become a household name and mom reaped the benefits as you can see by her ensemble. Love carried the day. Of course, in those days the places one could go as a seemingly interracial couple were limited. But they were happy.
Eddie died in 1950. We were living in Puerto Rico. We returned to the US on a ship called the SS Puerto Rico. First class. In 2014 I was in a library and a gentleman who helped me locate the Passenger List of this ship was amazed that in 1949 our family sailed First Class on a ship. He was amazed because it was unusual to see Black people sailing First Class back in the day. It is still amazing people today. I do not call this racism, but a by-product of racism. A thought process stuck somewhere in the unconscious.
I guess if the word love was #1 it would seem that folks needed more information on what love is. Sometimes I think we do.
Thanks, for stopping by. KCB