Memories of Our Mother A Black History Introspective
For Black History month (in an obvious exercise in white liberal guilt), I thought it would be cool to reflect back on a few things I encountered growing up, and people both Black and White that helped shaped my appreciation for the history and social issues faced by Black Americans in the US.
I kind hate to start out with a White person, but learning starts at home and for all of Stella M Edwards faults, she was not a bigot and held view few prejudices towards people, and certainly none that I can ever recall based on their heritage.
When I was a kid during Black History month, she would buy me books to read by Black authors or biographies of famous Black Americans or just general history books about famous Black inventors.
She would tell me stories about the area where she grew up in Southern Illinois being the only place in Illinois that had slaves. Right before the Civil War, There was a Salt Mine and an Old Slavehouse for the men that worked in it.
Eventually I learned to appreciated her attitudes were actually more prevalent before, during the Civil War and after, and it was only because of class struggles created by the Upper Class seeking to so divisions creating the idea of Whiteness that really caused all of the horrible 'racial' and I use that term loosely, tensions and strife during the time of slavery all the way through the civil rights era.
Her (and my father's) attitudes were very matter of fact, Poor White Yeoman farmer take on it, that it was wrong Black families had to endure it, for the stupid reason of that's just the way it was, that it didn't make any sense and wasn't right.
She never once said anything negative about me talking about any Black girl I was interested in, or Black boys that I would hang out with, she treated all the boys like her sons when they were over regardless of where they were from or their skin tone.
All she ever said when I asked her about dating a Black girl once if it go serious was, "I don't care if they are White, Black or Purple, as long as they are a good person, I want you to be with someone that you love and treats you well".
So yeah because of her I learned to appreciate the contributions of Black Americans, not to be completely color blind, and blind to the reality that they faced but learn about what they accomplished in spite of the adversity that the country put them through.
Final thought…So yeah, after thinking about it more, I think Mom, being of the generation called the Civil Rights Era, her sometimes rebellious tendency took the form of a conscious decision to raise his children the right way, without prejudice towards and with appreciation toward Black Americans as much as possible.
She couldn't really march or do much else politically, but her making the decision to raise her children the right way very much a conscious decision and I think the idea that it could be viewed as a form of Protest or as rebellious gave her great pleasure.
- Steven Edwards
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