Filed under: church, family, history, Minnesota, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, current-events, family, history, Minnesota, school bus, South Africa, travel
August 28, 1963, I was ten years old, living in Minnesota’s rural white America. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech meant nothing to me. Come on, I was ten! I was however raised by color blind parents. Those parents of northern European decent had no reason to see people of other colors as a threat. We were active in a missionary church that taught us that all people were God’s children, and that included ALL colors. I was raised on “Red and yellow and black and white, all are precious in his sight.”
My exposure to those of other colors was slim. Yes, we had a few brave souls in our community that had adopted black or asian children, but they were raised as I was, in a rural midwestern tradition that saw no color difference. That has changed as time has gone on.
I remember my parents welcoming everyone into their home, but the fact is that very few came to our part of Minnesota that were not white as I was growing up. Our trips to larger cities seldom came into contact with the “average” person of color, but we did interact with those who worked in restaurants and businesses. I never felt any fear traveling into areas that were not “white” when I was young, but I never really had any experiences that would have made me fear people of color. Our trips mostly stayed in the north, but we do have family in central Texas, and we did venture into Mexico when I was young, but again there was very little contact with those of color.
As time has gone on, I have had the opportunity to travel to other areas of the world. The chance to live, work and worship for a short time in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal region cemented my feelings that people of all colors are the same. They all want meaningful work, a chance to spend time with family and peace and justice in this world.
My morning school bus route is mostly rural, white farm kids. As time has gone on the sprinkling of adopted asian kids has increased. So have the number of mixed race kids whos parents have moved to rural farm sites. In town, the number of non-white kids is increasing rapidly. The Indian subcontinent motel keepers have been joined by the hispanic and African factory and government workers. Some may have a problem with that, I do not. Our little rural town is starting to resemble the world.
Now our little corner of the world will soon be joined by a female pastor who is married to a native of the Central African Republic (CAR), their two children and cousin who was born in CAR. Some in our community may have to reset their reality buttons. They have been living with kids of all races, but dealing with adults in positions of respect is a change. We are white bread no more.
So here I am, over 60 years of age and not about to change. I will continue to welcome people of all backgrounds to our community. We are getting new spice added to our lives. It will continue to be a fun ride.
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