We’ve Come A Long Way: On Gratitude

27 Dec

weve_come_a_long_way

Despite what’s happening in our country right now, I’m deeply grateful for how far we’ve come.

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but my parents spent their entire childhood in SC dealing with seemingly innocuous injustices: entering stores from the back, using separate everything and, when walking at night, always being sure to hide as soon as you saw car lights.

They’re not bitter, not once ever openly rejected my white friends and dates and, well, when they and J’s family are together like they were for Christmas I just want to cry. It’s just unbelievably awesome. Like something out of a cheesy Hallmark movie LOL. Sure our families are so very different in many ways other than race, but they still make sure to get comfortable with each other and feel like one family.

I may preach about what happens these days and use polarizing phrases like “white privilege” and “institutional racism” and that the phrase “post-racial society” is almost laughable it’s so false.

But I know how far we’ve come. I’ve studied and appreciated what happened during the Civil Rights movement and love talking about it.

Even though there’s always awkwardness from the cold stares and general discomfort living here as an interracial couple I’m grateful. Every time I walk into the front of a store or step onto a plane and an employee gives me a smile, every time I show affection for my husband in public and, shoot, simply every day I go to bed and snuggle up for the evening I’m grateful.

Our Christmas this year.

Our Christmas this year.

One of my favorite moments of the year was listening to activist Rep. John Lewis at Dragon Con talk about his motivation for the graphic novel “March.” He had met my husband while here and my husband thanked him for being an honest politician and what he’d done to make sure we could be married.

Lewis later referred to him as a “white brother” and handed out his cards to everyone. A couple of months later, he sent us signed copies of his books.

When it was time for audience comments, I knew I should thank him for the gifts and to say, to the audience’s enjoyment, that my husband couldn’t attend because he was in the board gaming area. (When I sat back down later, someone next to me whispered, “Your husband is REALLY a geek.”)

But like a few other audience members before and after me, I began to cry. His suffering and sacrifices while growing up, living and fighting for justice in Alabama had a direct effect on my life today.

He and his co-author, congressional aide Andrew Aydin, were signing books afterwards, so I anxiously waited in line to say hi close-up and get Aydin’s autograph. Lewis remembered speaking to my husband which floored me. Considering that meeting many people in and out of his constituency is a regular activity for him (and he’s 74 years young), I was so happy and stunned he remembered.

Aydin said “Aww” when he saw the books and the envelope they were shipped in. It appeared Lewis had packed and addressed the envelope himself. After affirming he met my husband, it was time to move on so I quickly thanked him, shook his hand and pressed my cheek against his. I was beaming the rest of the day and couldn’t wait to get back to the gaming room to let the hubs in on what happened.

Because of leaders like Lewis, we’ve grown dramatically, particularly here in the South compared to my parents’ youth. It’s amazing how much little time has passed but how far we’ve come. You can liken it to the advancement of technology in the last 30 years or so. It’s phenomenal.

To close 2014, I’m choosing to reflect on the greatness we experience on a daily basis and seem to take for granted. I’ll stumble and allow negativity to come back. But I know we’re almost there. Today I choose gratitude.

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2 Responses to “We’ve Come A Long Way: On Gratitude”

  1. Terri January 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Extraordinaire post! I have to agree with you. You can’t always focus on how far you have left to go. Think about how far we’ve already come. I try to remember that everything is cracked; that’s how the light gets in.

    I really can’t stand those polarizing racial statements people tend to throw around. So happy you and your husband can live happily together with open minds in your life.

    • Willi January 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

      Thank you Terri. I love that – everything is cracked and that’s how light gets in. That’s beautiful. Thanks for commenting!

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