That's what my adopted mother used to tell me...of course it was the aftermath of some horrific crime I had committed, you know, as a 5 year old, perhaps I had spilled her buttons, as a 6 year old I remember some beratement occurring when I was playing "zoo animals" with Nedra and Deanie and I had run through the garage roaring like the lioness I wanted to be...
Today I was invited to our local hospital to bring some sense of balance between our tribal member patients and the care givers that work there. I opened with this story:
"I was adopted out at the age of four. I was raised by a family of non-Indians and was the only minority in my town until I was in seventh grade. My adopted mother was forward thinking and tried to find playmates for me, we lived way out in the sticks if you will...but you know how it is, we're not always friends with the duaghters of our mother's friends. To this day there's one name I hear and it makes me shudder!
It came time for me to go to first grade and I was OH so excited! New friends, classroom smells, it was so fun for me. I met a little girl and we bonded closely. We spent every recess, every lunch time together and worked together on projects when we could. Finally, she asked me to come over to her home for a sleepover, it was going to be so fun. On the day of the happy event I packed my little bag, got my permission slips for the bus driver, went to school and was met at the bus by my little friend.
ARE YOU INDIAN OR NEGRO? she asked me quite loudly...I replied, yes, I'm Umatilla Indian from Eastern Oregon (a response I'd learned from my adopted mother) and she quickly replied I CAN'T BE FRIENDS WITH YOU ANY MORE I HATE ALL INDIANS AND NEGROS."
That's the story I opened with and as I watched the crowd there were some with tears in their eyes...I wasn't crushed or devasted I think...I didn't even realize until years later just how harsh that whole scenario was...but that's the kind of prejudice that my mother later spoke into my life when she would tell me "you're the kind of person who makes people hate Indians."
We all have the capability to be prejudiced. I remember one of my son's friends was talking to him and my son said something about "that black guy" and his friend responded "I don't see color." That's actually preposterous.
We are all made differently. Even those who share genes have their own unique fingerprints...the balance to this whole conundrum is this: If we look at these stories and are determined to love then it doesn't matter what the rest of the world is saying or doing. Today, I will love my fellow humans...TODAY I will look beyond what might be seen as a flaw and I will revel in the unique character of my sisters and brothers.