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Dreams Can Make a Difference

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 2
1/24/2014


By Taylor Ramsey

Last Thursday afternoon I received a call at work from Cimarron, New Mexico, that my mom was taken to a hospital with a serious medical problem. My wife said we are going and my brother decided to join us so we hurried home, threw some stuff in a suitcase and hit the road to meet up with my sister who was flying in.

We were driving all night and our conversation went to reminiscing about my mom and it got me to thinking about growing up in Lakewood. My parents bought a home in 1950 just like thousands of people purchasing the new homes going up like popcorn in the city limits and I was so fortunate they made that decision. My life as a kid in Lakewood put me in a place where there were pretty much no worries.

Life in Lakewood was good for kids. Our parents knew when we went outside and on the road with our bikes all over town or hung out at the local park that we were safe. We spent so much time in the San Gabriel riverbed (before it was paved) with our friends to play army, build tumble weed forts and chase birds and rabbits with our dogs. If you were in a friend’s home at lunch time your buddy’s mom fed you a good meal and that was just the way it was.

As I got older I became aware there was a world outside the city limits of Lakewood. I discovered there were other people with kids my age having a horrendous time coping with life in our wonderful country. I was confused and I soon realized that I was fortunate because my skin was white.

I grew up watching “Leave it to Beaver,” Roy Rogers, the “Mickey Mouse Club” and the like and it never occurred to me that those shows were not representing all of us. It was to me, the way life was. I did not know that people with dark skin were forced to drink from separate water fountains, that they had no admittance to many restaurants or hotel rooms and they could be hung from a tree and killed simply for having dark skin.

Getting older I began to observe seemingly nice and good people saying terrible things about folks because their skin was dark. I found myself avoiding those people as much as possible and with a few more years under my belt it made me angry and sad.

Just before my 12th birthday on August 28, 1963 a man I had not really heard about made an historical speech the world seemed to hear. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King presented his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that would touch all of us in one way or another for generations to come. His speech came after so many strong and brave people fought long and hard to make a better America.

Rosa Parks on December 1, 1965, stood up by sitting down on a bus to tell the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama that she would NOT go to the back of the bus.

I personally observed an example of discrimination soon after the turn of the 21st century. My wife and I were taking my son’s best friend on a two day drive to visit my son who had been away for some time. After about 12 hours of driving I checked into a hotel asking for a room with two beds. All was fine until my wife and my son’s buddy with black skin walked in with their bags. The clerk became distressed and reached for the key. I was dumbfounded, but looked him in the eye told him to relax and we turned and went to our room. I made sure the room door was locked and was uneasy the whole night.

Over time as my family has grown and more and more relatives continue to marry and have children our clan has become more colorful. I want to say that I am proud of my family members because they are good people and not because of the color of their skin. It is just the way it is. You fall in love, get married and have kids and the color of one’s skin seems to be the furthest thing from your mind. At least you hope it can be. However, I know some of my relatives to this day run into dim-witted people who fail to hide the real person they are.

Overall, life has become better for people of all colors, but there are still some loathsome and repugnant people who consider the color of one’s skin the criteria in which to judge a person.

I pray my mom gets better and I pray the message Dr. King, Rosa Parks and those who fought so courageously and sacrificed so much in trying to eliminate hatred – and educate us all – will never be forgotten.

taylor@longbeachcomber.com
Taylor’s Blog: www.lettertotheeditorblog.com
Twitter: @TaylorPRamsey