The ugly past rears its head.


I arrived in the Washington DC area fifty-five years ago today.  My husband just returned from SE Asia, had been assigned to Quantico VA.

 This day, we were driving from Maryland to visit my husband’s cousins. As we passed through DC, we found ourselves caught in a sea of donkeys looking up at the Capitol building.  The Democrats had won, and JFK was the new president. Although I had helped my mother campaign for JFK, I was really naive when it came to presidential politics. Heck, I wasn’t even old enough to vote.

Later came all the turmoil of the 1960s which thoroughly confused me. For one thing, I did not understand why Black people were so upset. I had grown up in the South, and thought they were happy people always signing:

“Camp town ladies sing this song, doo dah,

Camp town race track five miles long, oh the too dah day?”  

My ignorance had much to do with the way my family lived.  In those days, we mostly hang out with the other Catholic families, and saw little of Black families until my Dad had a quarrel with the local White priest and he left that parish to join the Black Catholic Church.

One of Dad’s good friends was a Catholic Lebanese immigrant who ran a small corner store in the Black neighborhood. The shopkeeper didn’t have a lot, but he managed to make enough money that he and his family lived near us in the middle class part of town.

I recall visiting the store with Dad and noting how downtrodden and poor the people living around it were.  I also noticed the rutted roads capable of breaking a car axle. At the time, I wondered what was the matter with these people? How can they live like this? I knew nothing about Jim Crow in those days.

For a while, I hang out with Donnie, one of the store owner’s kids who was near my age. One day when I was walking with him, some boys across the street began yelling names. They had called me names before, so I thought the comments were directed at me (I was Catholic). But he said, no they were yelling at him because he was “Arab.”

Being poorly educated about race and ethnicity in Southern public schools, I did not understand what ‘Arab.’ meant.

All this was many years ago and today, I am much wiser and better informed, and wondering just how much progress we have made.

I know that “Make America Great again” is lie. America has always been a work in progress and we, the people, have overcome many flaws.  I know the “good old days” weren’t so good for many. I know Americans need to do more with regard to “Justice for All.”

I also know that “America First” is a slogan from an American organization filled with Nazi infiltrators during WWII.

I don’t want to go back to the ugly past.

31 thoughts on “The ugly past rears its head.

  1. I was just saying the same thing today. We can’t go back unless we want one car, a black and white tv and six kids in a 3 bedroom house. And we can’t improve our country by banning unreasonably. But I understand that we must all pull together so I’m getting on board the positive thinking bus and hoping that we somehow come out of this thing with a little respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You really moved me with this post. It is so sad when we see what is happening in the world at the moment.
    Over the last year or so there has been a massive influx of refugees arrive in Germany. I think Fr Merkel is a strong leader but I would never, ever have considered voting for her in the past. But her invitation to people in dire need has massively impressed me. I am also so impressed with how most German people have really welcomed the refugees. There were so many donations for them that the authorities were completely overwhelmed at the beginning. Then, of course there were a couple of attacks. I say of course, because there are always bad eggs. You can’t shelter the world from all the bad eggs out there. But they are few and far between and although these attacks were TERRIBLE they do not represent refugees or muslims. They just represent bad eggs who took advantage of the situation. But the far right pray on people’s fears. And they use those fears to spread hate. You see it here, in the UK, in France, Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands. And, of course, the US. It is like a disease that is spreading. What I have noticed is how focussed the press is on telling us about attacks by refugees, but those events can in no way compare to the attacks made on refugees by the extreme right in terms of sheer volume. There have been frequent arson attacks on refugee hostels for example. It makes me very sad.

    Thank you for writing this post. You are the type of person who makes a difference. In a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I am frustrated and sad. My daughter cheered me up. We had been arguing for a year about politics. She told me last weekend after the “Muslim ban” was issued that no one at her house had voted for Trump. That is a total of seven adults. I told her that means I didn’t fail as a mother.

      We have many underreported incidents in the US of terrorism involving neoNazis, skinheads, etc. I am more bothered by them than Muslim terrorists.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a frightening time, but today’s marches all over the world gave me hope. I wished I were in Eugene (Oregon ) where I could — and would– have joined the march (just by walking out my apartment door and down a block to the starting point). The closest one here was a 100 mile round trip away (I’m living in the wrong (right using the other meaning) part of the country this time of year).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for this post, Dianne! It’s perfect! My friends are marching in Chicago. My son, daughter-in-law and grandson (in his stroller) marched in Washington, D.C. I wish I could have too. I think it’s awesome that people around the world and across our country have marched in solidarity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is amazing watching the marchers around the world today. I am heartened, and although bad things will happen politically in the short term, I am optimistic for the long view. Hopefully events like today will minimize the damage as legislators take a second look at what they want to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more. Trump is such an embarrassment and his trashing of the U.S. and his grand ideas to change everything is a disgrace. I’ll bet that behind closed doors the Republicans are saying “what do we do now?”

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yes, scary as it is, fear won’t consume me! Know of several folks who marched in D.C. from California, and received video of VA friend with her sign, with a potent slogan on one side that she and her family started the group chanting in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Students from our Claremont Colleges marched here — other communities, also — and, of course, Los Angeles. We must continue to be vigilant about the DT crowd’s “alternate facts”.

        Liked by 1 person

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