“WHEN PEOPLE RELY ON SURFACE APPEARANCES AND FALSE RACIAL STEREOTYPES RATHER THAN IN DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF OTHERS AT THE LEVEL OF THE HEART, MIND AND SPIRIT, THEIR ABILITY TO ASSESS AND UNDERSTAND PEOPLE ACCURATELY IS COMPROMISED”
JAMES A, FORBES
During my days living on the ranch, we had both cattle and sheep. Sheep became an early necessity because their wool, which was highly government subsidized, produced an income in the spring. Originally, local folks were available to shear the sheep and sack the wool. Later, with no locals available, Mexican crews would show up and do the work. This was my first experience with folks of a different color. It wasn’t much of an experience because I was told to stay away from them.
In college I transferred from the University of Northern Colorado to the University of Wyoming. During this time I met my first black person, Sammy Miller. Yes, he lived on the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks in Laramie. Although we have not maintained contact, I credit him with forming my belief that skin color does not matter.
The important people at Dominican Oaks are mostly brown. Yes, they clean out apartments, wash our clothes, and prepare and serve our meals. The jobs are open to people of any color. They are good jobs with union wages and benefits. They are encouraged by management not to become our friends but to treat us as ‘residents’. Although I have lived here more than six years, I refuse to be called a ‘resident’. I am John, not just one of more than two hundred other ‘residents’. I treat the employees as my friends.
During my first year of teaching, I was given some sound advice… become friends with the custodian. That advice served me well for thirty-five years. I never lacked for supplies or needed repairs. I am a friend to all workers at Dominican Oaks. Caring about and for people has its rewards…the caring is returned. Person to person contact always works better than filling out a form and turning it into management. More than a year ago, I filled out the form…the repair still needs to be made.
The children in Cludad Juarez, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico, have found a way to send a message that skin color does not matter. The wall separating the two towns is actually not a wall at all. It is a slatted fence. With some ingenious help, they have been able to build see saws that fit between the slats. Now not only can they talk together, they can play together. Once again children have shown us the way… will we follow?
In my younger days I was labeled a liberal. In my older days, I am labeled a progressive. I prefer my own label…human.
“RACIAL PREJUDICE, ANTI-SEMITISM, OR HATRED OF ANYONE WITH DIFFERENT BELIEFS HAS NO PLACE IN THE HUMAN MIND OR HEART.”
PO Box 14
Capitola, CA 95010