Social Steps

Saturday, June 19, 2021 (In 8 days, June’s fullest [Strawberry] moon will rise.)

Today is “Juneteenth, a new national holiday, celebrating the end of slavery. Long ago on this date slaves in Texas learned that slavery had been ended, that they were free people.

Studies of American Black history show that “social freedom” always has been a “complex maybe”. In a sense, social freedom is what everyone must learn. From childhood to maturity, at some point most youths leave their families to seek freedom, using their innate strengths and finding ways to profit.

I grew up in small-town Oklahoma at a time when “Blacks were different”, and heard opinions like, “keep them in their own section of town”. Not just Blacks, but also Native Americans, in an area once home of the whole Cherokee Nation. In my growing-up days, white-skins thought lowly of Indians, and, as for Mexicans….

I didn’t dwell much on the plights of others. My mind constantly focused on more personal issues.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family that self-identified as Jewish. The small town disliked Jews as much as or maybe more than its other inferiors. Through my school years, I felt different from the Christian norm, and especially after reaching Junior High. That’s an age when kids especially are sensitive and vulnerable to outside influences and opinions. I didn’t fit-in. Besides feeling not part of the “best school crowd”, many girls were skinnier than me, prettier with better (not curly) hair, and seemed to be living in happier families. Their grades were better than mine, and worst, the boys liked them more.

Looking back now and knowing that all kids must survive early social influences, must address the terrors of puberty, it’s easy to conclude we’ve all suffered the trials and tribulations of gaining maturity. Imagine though, adding to all else, being Black, Native American, or Mexican. I could choose to not identify as Jewish, in contrast to others with dark skins that spoke volumes.

At last, America is maturing by paying attention to humanity overall. It’s about time America dealt with equality, its complex issues of conflict and misundersanding. At least, we’re beginning to appreciate each other’s innate qualities, conversing about old injustices and injuries, and taking baby steps toward repairing.

Hat’s off to communication technologies! They’ve forced more listening and hearing. Hat’s off to social gains in a nation finally maturing. I wish it had been possible to know better at least some of my home town’s multi-cultured residents, but the status quo sealed our mutual loss.

Dear Friends: “If I could do it all again…,” would depend on our knowing then what we know now. Diana

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