My Aunt Ruth was so beautiful that the Miss California pageant wanted her to be a contestant but my Grandmother wouldn’t hear of it. Ruth Brookover was as intelligent and compassionate as she was beautiful. When she heard that I had cried when I saw a dark-skinned nurse’s aide leaning over my hospital crib when I had eye surgery in San Francisco at age two and a half she gave me a little Black doll because she said I had hurt the lady’s feelings and she wanted to make sure I didn’t grow up prejudiced.
When I was seven, Aunt Ruth took me to my first political demonstration. I was scared but proud as we stood outside the San Francisco Market Street Macy’s store at Christmastime with signs that said No War Toys. The protest was organized by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in an effort to make parents stop and think before they purchased gifts of guns and toy soldiers for their young children. As I stood in the cold fog in my thin coat my older Cousin Bob took my hand when people yelled at us “Communist!” It was then that I learned that you might suffer for doing the right thing, but you also got the rewards of belonging. Aunt Ruth took us out for Chinese food afterwards so my first political protest left a good taste. Sometimes it is the small as much as large events in life that leave a lasting impression.
A student in a Gender Studies class I spoke to at University of South Alabama wrote:
You may not remember me, but a couple of years ago you helped me with a book I was doing for my husband. Every few months I check back to see what you have posted, and have just listened to your recent interview on Fox News re: the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. It was a pleasure to listen to you – great interview!
Once again, best wishes in all your endeavours!
Yes Doreen, I do remember you and the lovely book you produced for your husband’s birthday. In a few months, I may be able to post an update about a potential publisher who is seriously considering the book at this time. Thank you for getting in touch and please give your husband my best regards. – Maria
An edited version of this short story has been accepted for publication in a collection of stories edited by Ann T. Jealous and Carolyn T. Haskell: “Combined Destinies
Whites Sharing Grief about Racism”. Foreword by Julian Bond and Pam Horowitz
forthcoming from Potomac Books February 2013
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