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View Diary: Living Through the Little Rock School Integration Crisis--1957 (52 comments)

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  •  I learned that the assumptions (4+ / 0-)

    I had had about life in the segregated South were just that -- assumptions, and that the heavy lines in the sand about how attitudes work weren't nearly as fixed as I had believed them to be.  I also learned a whole lot more about my father than I had ever been exposed to before, as a child I had always just assumed my father to be a bigot and not much more than that.

    This is a purely subjective experience, so I can't and won't presume to generalize from it, or make sense of your own experiences.  But it did teach me that even the most clear of human experiences can have multiple aspects and that if I want to understand human experiences and a fully range of their consequences, nuance is important.  That has been a helpful lesson, beyond the tale my parents told me.    

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:34:01 AM PDT

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    •  Oh, I fully understand now, thank you, (3+ / 0-)
      But it did teach me that even the most clear of human experiences can have multiple aspects and that if I want to understand human experiences and a fully range of their consequences, nuance is important.  
      Very true. And very important. And one has to be grateful (and humble) if one gets the chance to be exposed to glimpses of those human experiences and recognize their complexity.

      Thank you, Gilas Girl.

      •  My grandmother. (4+ / 0-)

        My grandmother was born in 1891 in rural Mississippi. When I was little she would tell me about the black man, Sam, who worked for her father on the farm, and about Sam's son Marion, who was my grandmother's best childhood friend. I remember Ma (as I called her) telling me what a good, kind man Sam was, and she obviously loved him and Marion.

        I never heard my grandmother use any word for black people other than "nigger" or sometimes "nigra."

        When I was in third grade (fall of 1969), my school system in Florida integrated, and I had my first African-American teacher. When my grandmother found out my teacher was black, she broke down in tears.

        I also heard a story about my grandmother from my aunt. One of their white neighbors killed his wife, blamed it on a black man who lived nearby, and bribed two white witnesses to back him up. My grandmother somehow made the witnesses feel so guilty or afraid that they confessed in court, the black man went free, and the murdering husband went to prison. This was probably in the 1920s or 1930s, still in rural Mississippi. It was practically unheard-of for a black person accused of a crime to be acquitted.

        What I draw from this is that people have an amazing ability to compartmentalize--to believe contradictory things, and not to realize the depth of our self-contradiction. We always have to be on guard against our own hypocrisy, our own willingness to believe what is convenient.

         

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:12:35 AM PDT

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        •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
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          HeyMikey, Carol in San Antonio

          for an even more compelling example.  I find that lesson to be enormously valuable, one of the most important things I've learned.  Every time that lesson is emphasized and reinforced, my appreciation of its power grows.

          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:32:55 AM PDT

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        •  Thank you so much for sharing this (3+ / 0-)

          I fully understand what you say in your last paragraph. I think millions of Germans lived under these emotional mental status, so much so that I ask myself if it is an inate mechanism of self-preservation vis a vis facing the (imoral) facts of life you can't escape from having been part of.

          Sometimes it seems to me it is more than just the willingness to believe what is convenient, it might sometimes as well be the incapability to survive the pain related to the "evil" we were involved in that make us compartementalize by default as a mechanism of self-protection. But ... I am not sure. The same might be so for obvious "amnesia" of things you couldn't have forgotten in earnest.

        •  A most interesting story, HeyMikey (2+ / 0-)
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          HeyMikey, texasmom

          Thank you for sharing it. I'm glad your grandmother helped that poor man to go free. What a narrow escape he had!

          "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

          by Diana in NoVa on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 06:53:42 PM PDT

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