WHAT’S PLAYING: Gretchen Wilson “All Jacked Up”
I originally intended this post for Monday, to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., but was too sick to write it. I still think the message is important, even if it is a bit late.
I was born on a Choctaw Indian reservation in Mississippi, a state not known for tolerance. My mother is Choctaw and African-American and my father is German, which made me a perfect target. I was bullied through much of my childhood. Kids picked on everything: my race, hair, clothes, height, you name it. Soon, the verbal bullying gave way to physical altercations. One day, a kid broke my wrist after I refused to call my mother a “white man’s whore”.
I left the rez and moved in with my father the next day.
Things were good for a while. I thought I’d left all that behind me. I grew up, finished my education and got a decent job. Then one day, my supervisor told me he considered intermingling between Whites and other races to be mortal sin. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but it still hurt. It’s not everyday someone calls you an abomination to your face…at work. I stared at him for a minute, and then replied that I didn’t think fat ass, useless, bigoted idiots should be allowed to breed, so we were both destined for disappointment. Then I quit, calmly gathered my things, and walked out to my car…where I sat and cried for about half an hour.
I left Mississippi a few weeks later. I’m not bashing my home state. Most of the people there are warm, good-hearted folks. But every time I visit and see how far we’ve come, I can’t help but think of how far we still have to go.
Since then, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter where you live, there will always be someone there to tell you what you can or can’t do. Or even worse, what you should or shouldn’t be.
Writers, musicians, artists, and even half-breeds: we all have a place in this world. We all make a difference and we have much to learn from each other.
Thanks to my less than ideal childhood, I’ve developed a thick skin. My bullies only made me stronger. Compared to them, querying agents and editors is a breeze.
Let’s just hope none of them tries to break my wrist.