I remember the very day that I realized I was colored. Being teased in elementary school by 1 white boy and an East Indian boy, kids who didn’t know any better had me confused. I was only called the “N” word once that I remember but mostly called “blackie”. Being raised in a white family, I didn’t understand this hate. I walked across the school yard when I was about 8 and looked at my hand and saw that I was different than 99% of my school. From there, it was the miniseries “Roots” that I learned of slavery. Not that I was being kept from a culture but the culture in Vancouver BC Canada was almost non existent and the culture on TV was presenting pimps and prostitutes to my curious mind. This lending an almost fear towards my kind. If another black person walked by and nodded at me, I was very shy but curious to why? Why was there a silent understanding? An understanding of what? I think, my parents felt it may be irrelevant to tell me of a crisis in the US and the civil rights movement back in the early 70’s, potentially hoping by the time I was old enough, it would be a non-issue? My mother Norma and father Mac Elrod introduced me to many of my kind but mostly through the theater. Taking me to “Aint Misbehavin” several times and another production I think called “The Blues Review.” Both parents very active in the Civil Rights Movement and chose to move to Canada to get away from a country, at that time, refusing to change.
Today, I do not grieve a long ago past of the enslavement of African Americans but are more interested in how they have grown to overcome the obstacles, hate and repression. How a people rose above the past, with their pride intact! This is the message that I feel should be shared with the youth today. Not to forget what happened but to be proud of the people who overcame the anger, learnt from others mistakes and worked hard and moved on, paving a road for others. I grieve for the people who feel they are still enslaved and are unable to break themselves free of the invisible chains and feel violence and taking, is the way of the world for them.