Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mix Twist

I met a lady today who showed me pictures of her parents. The oval framed a beautiful black woman and the square held a white man. This woman was almost 89, and she was one of the younger of the eight children. I asked her did the families accept her and the other children? She lived in Mississippi as a child. Her father's home in Little Rock, Arkansas. At first her mother's father was about to kill the man, but the mother pleaded,"Papa, we're married now. We didn't have to get married, there's no baby yet. We waited. Put your gun down, you a preacher." And I guess since the white man hadn't violated his daughter, he then accepted the marriage. The first time they rode the train to Little Rock, they couldn't sit together and she had a baby in her arms. The conductor commented, not kindly, on the black baby and the father told him to shut up. After that he bought new cars for the trip, but finding a place that would sell them gas was hard. Usually black people would bring them get gas. The white family hugged them and accepted them, too.
Another time around St. Patrick's Day, I visited a house. When people hear my name, Mollie, they always ask, "Are you Irish?" In this home, the husband and wife were both black. The husband said, "I'm Irish, too." He sorted of laughed when I didn't hide my puzzlement too well. "My dad was Irish. Yes, I grew up in a mixed home." This also would have been the 20's and 30's in Youngstown. Maybe not as hard as Mississippi, but still difficult.
I cared for a lovely woman in Campbell years ago. I also assumed she was all black. Later she showed me pictures of her great grandparents in the 1880's. One a black woman and the husband a white man. They both sacrificed family and social standing with this marriage. One of their sons married a Native American,and she knew this grandmother. Often they were harassed when they went shopping with the more obvious black mother. This lady said,"I really don't know what I am." I told her she was wonderfully kind American and Christian, which she was. I counted her as a friend.
One of my misconceptions I believe from growing up in the 60's and 70's is mixed couples were unique in number to that time and that it was mostly black men with white women. Thanks to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "A Patch of Blue." What is on the surface is not always as it seems. These couples in the past risked status, family, life for the love they felt for each other. And they stuck together despite the odds.
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