Here in Kentucky, we will be having a 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights march on Frankfort, Kentucky. It will be held on March 5, 2014 at 2nd Street and Capitol Avenue at 9:30am. Participants will be walking to the State Capitol building at 700 Capital Ave Bay (approximately a two block walk). I hope to attend.
It may seem a silly thing for a white woman from Kentucky to have such concern for this issue; as people love to make assumptions and judgments. However, as a woman who covers (aka hijabi) and a mama with two of my five children being interracial, I do have a stake in this battle. I never knew (like personally) racism until I became Muslim in post 9/11 America. I learned what it is like to be followed in stores, what it is like to be harassed because I looked different, what it is like to lose a job or not get a job because I did not fit the mainstream, and even what it is like to not have any role models in the public spotlight.
North Carolina recently had their Moral Monday Movement kickoff at Shaw University to commemorate the Civil Rights Movement fifty four years ago. February 1, 1960… four black students went to a segregated lunch counter in Woolworth’s in Greensboro. That was the beginning of a struggle that has had some victories, but has not won the war.
The whammy came at my dad’s 70th birthday party. We all had a great day that day and was blessed with so many of my dad’s family and friends, from all over the country, in attendance; some we had not seen in too many years. My sister had collected photos from us all with dad and our individual families and us growing up and created a video. Towards the end of the day, we all went to the barn to watch the video on a sheet that hung at the back doors. Everyone oooed and awwed at all the memories, sometimes laughing and sometimes in near tears. At one point, a picture of my dad and Mr. Current (spouse) popped on the screen. Mr. Current rarely spends anytime with us and even less with my family, so he was not recognized by many. My youngest son pops up, “That is my baba!” I was taken aback by all the people turning about in complete astonishment and some things being whispered under their breathes. (disclaimer: my family were not of this group of people).
There on the screen was my white haired, red skinned, hazel eyed dad with my swarthy, black eyed, kinky and blacked haired Mr. Current. He is Mauritanian from North Africa… a long way from the hills of Kentucky. And yes we do not have the idyllic marriage, but those troubles has never had anything to do with our different races… possibly our different cultures, but most definitely with our different minds and hearts not being compatible.
Fortunately, no one said anything to make my children feel different or uncomfortable and they were far in the front to feel what I felt from some of the people. Yet, I knew I had a new battle to fight and for the sake of my kids. My two sons really do not take after each other… one got more genetics from Mr. Current than from me and the other from me more than Mr. Current. One could easily pass as Caucasian, but the other has his distinct Arab features with olive skin, black as night eyes and slight kink to his black hair. There is legend that my great grandfather was a passer, from what we are unsure; there are even more versions of that story. I never want my children to feel that they HAVE to pass for anything but who they are authentically. I never want them to be ashamed of their heritages and most certainly never have to deal with the ignorance of a few… a few too many.
For more information on the march on Frankfort, you can like Kentucky Commission on Human Rights FB page here. To read more about the Moral Monday march in North Carolina, visit here. And please take time to read a great story from the Civil Rights march on Frankfort in 1964, here.