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A Heart for the Underdog

 
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Post A Heart for the Underdog Carolyn Smith
The first part of this is kind of slow and rambling as I reminisced about some childhood memories...skip that part if you'd like, but I hope you'll read the part about what is happening in our nation right now.

*************************************************

I did something today I haven’t done in many years...I drove through the neighborhood I grew up in until around the time I was around 10 years old. I was surprised to see Askew’s and the grocery store next to it completely gone, though I think I have noticed it in the past. The gas station across from our apartment on Davis Street bore a different name but was still standing. The apartment, formerly a duplex, appeared to be one dwelling now, but the next set of apartments where Mrs. Elks and Debbie lived looked much the same, aside from desperately needing a fresh coat of paint. I drove down the street and past the brick house where the Allen family lived. I had climbed the tree in that yard with my friend Timmy many times.

I drove further down to Third Street and turned right, remembering back in the day walking to school along this familiar route. I slowly rode past Third Street School where I played on the monkey bars, past where a silly little boy named Jay stole a kiss in the first grade. I spotted the Dieners’ home and thought of Mama selling Avon in this neighborhood – and the many times I had walked it with her. I had a pretty idyllic childhood. Times were often tough, and my parents had their share of arguments, but I never once doubted their love.

I continued driving downtown and drove past the post office to drop something in the mailbox outside. I meandered around the confusing mix of one way streets that were not a part of my childhood. New businesses had taken over the places that haunted my childhood and teenage years. I drove past the shop where my daddy worked for over 30 years as an electrician that was, surprisingly, now a boutique. I kept driving and remembering what had been in their places in years past – Blount Harvey’s and the radio station WOOW, where you could see the DJ sitting there in the front window. I continued down to First Street and remembered the 4th of July celebrations held there – the greased pole, the watermelon seed-spitting contest, the horseshoe games, and the food – OH, THE FOOD – corn on the cob, hot dogs and hamburgers, and cotton candy. I drove across the river where the covered bridge used to be, but as with everything else, it has been modernized and improved as the years have passed.

Later as I thought about the memories the drive through had spawned, I began to think about the problems of today, the racial tensions our nation is feeling, and thought that probably my first real memory of noticing people who were different than me. I remembered Arthur Cherry, the black janitor at Third Street School, who was just a kind man that worked there to me. Our classes there were a mixture of black and white students from the time I was in kindergarten, so seeing different races didn’t strike me as odd. We were just kids playing dress up and learning our ABCs and numbers, taking naps, and going home when our moms came to pick us up. (We didn’t go to preschool in those days, as there was no race for excellence among toddlers.) We were just kids and race wasn’t that much of an issue as far as I knew. My parents taught me to love others, and treat everyone the same, to be kind, and to follow the rules.

I’m not saying racism didn’t exist then. Being raised in the South meant there was an awareness and realization that there were whites and there were blacks, two races that were different and distinct, and we usually stayed in our own corners unless something happened to stir the pot. I remember the race riots at Rose in the 70s when the schools integrated, which I’m sure could have been handled better somehow. But in my world, there wasn’t a lot of racism that I knew of. While I’m sure others may have different experiences, it was not something that affected my every day life.

As I grew older, I began to understand what it meant to be different, to be the odd one out of the group mindset many displayed. I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and the strict conservative values I was taught there set me apart in a rather unique way. I was socially awkward and by the time I reached junior high, I felt very different than most of my peers. I didn’t really fit in much of anywhere.

Though I loved music, there was a girl in my band class that made my life miserable, calling me names every day as I walked towards the class upstairs. I didn’t fit in with the kids whose parents were doctors and lawyers, nor did I fit in with the athletes or geeks. I just didn’t fit in much of anywhere and hung out with other kids that fell into that same category, and together, we pretended not to care. But when you’re a teenager, you desperately want to fit in somewhere. Kids can be so mean and heartless to others their age...those years were not a lot of fun for someone different like me, so I developed a heart for the underdog. I could always spot the ones on the sidelines, the ones not asked to parties or chosen to be on the team. It was hard being different, and my heart hurt for those like me who were.

As an adult, I have also become adept at spotting the bullies, those people who thrive on being mean to anyone they consider weaker. Those folks who like to call others derisive names and throw put-downs in their direction, the kind of folks who trip you and then kick you for falling. And it’s been my experience that while some grow out of that childish stage, those who are school yard bullies tend to grow up to be adult bullies. I’ve learned to stand up to people like that, but sometimes life hands you situations where you are not the one in control.

Situations like George Floyd found himself in this week. Though he was one time employed as a bouncer, his friends remember him as a gentle giant. But there he lay on the ground, held in place by a merciless bully with a badge who abused the power entrusted to him and supported by like-minded men holding the rest of his body. My heart for the underdog was stirred and horrified, and I wondered what kind of person could detach himself so wholly from the scene playing out before him? What kind of terrible person could casually destroy a fellow human being and not be moved by his pleas for mercy? How could anyone not want to help this man to his feet – or at least fight for him to be rescued?

The school yard bully has indeed grown up into a man-sized bully, and it is time for society to step up, to step into place, and make sure he is held accountable for his deeds. It is time to step up and find a way somehow to protect those who are more vulnerable – to stand up and protect the underdogs from the bullies.

Now is the time. It’s time – it’s past time. It’s time for the underdogs to win and the bullies to be put in their places, instead of being empowered and excused. My generation has not managed to achieve this. Perhaps our younger generation can find a way to forge our future in a more peaceful direction.

It’s time for the Church at large to take her head out of the sand and acknowledge any problems within her that contribute to racism to be cast aside, for chains of darkness to be forsaken, to write a new history of love and acceptance. It is time for us to rise as one Body, united by the love of Jesus, empowered by the sacrifice on the Cross, the blood of Jesus and the name of Jesus, with holy hands and pure hearts, to bring healing to our people and to our land. Instead of ignoring our differences, it is time to bring honor to our individual cultures by respecting and celebrating them – to take the time to learn and embrace those differences instead of allowing the enemy to use them to separate us.

It’s time.
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6/1/20 10:36 am


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Post Cojak
Memory lane gets tougher the older you get. WE have a BIG problem in this world, not just the USA.
Just as "The poor you have always!" You will find the Bully you have always. And if you challenge the bully and do not have the gas to complete it, YOU get hurt.

The latest incidents does bring out a BIG problem we have, and that is Racism in power. Our police force is made up of good men, good men that want to get ahead. It is a system, and unless you are one of the 'fair haired few' you do not get ahead by fighting the system. (In business and church)

I am one of the few who dares someone to tell me race relations are not BETTER now than in the 40-50 era. My dad pastored in Valdese NC, and by LAW, a black person was not allowed on the streets after dark nor could they live in the city limits.

There was no black lighted ball fields and Fri night the black community was allowed to use the field. They were not allowed to use the restrooms. So hundreds used a path behind our house as a bathroom.

I happened to stop in Valdese for a hamburger a couple years ago. I saw a black man and white woman having lunch, they were married. There was a mixed race couple of teens sitting, talking and enjoying a milk shake. It is not the best it can be, but there is improvement.

Remember when women could not vote?

WE are improving, not fast enough I agree, but we are getting there.
There are many examples. But I KNOW the few friends I have who are black do have times they are insulted and hurt. BUT they have climbed the ladder against odds, two are general contractors the other a lady banker.
Breaking that 'blue line' will be hard, but it does need to be done legally, somehow.
Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad
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6/1/20 8:58 pm


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Post Carolyn Smith
Cojak wrote:
Memory lane gets tougher the older you get. WE have a BIG problem in this world, not just the USA.
Just as "The poor you have always!" You will find the Bully you have always. And if you challenge the bully and do not have the gas to complete it, YOU get hurt.

The latest incidents does bring out a BIG problem we have, and that is Racism in power. Our police force is made up of good men, good men that want to get ahead. It is a system, and unless you are one of the 'fair haired few' you do not get ahead by fighting the system. (In business and church)

I am one of the few who dares someone to tell me race relations are not BETTER now than in the 40-50 era. My dad pastored in Valdese NC, and by LAW, a black person was not allowed on the streets after dark nor could they live in the city limits.

There was no black lighted ball fields and Fri night the black community was allowed to use the field. They were not allowed to use the restrooms. So hundreds used a path behind our house as a bathroom.

I happened to stop in Valdese for a hamburger a couple years ago. I saw a black man and white woman having lunch, they were married. There was a mixed race couple of teens sitting, talking and enjoying a milk shake. It is not the best it can be, but there is improvement.

Remember when women could not vote?

WE are improving, not fast enough I agree, but we are getting there.
There are many examples. But I KNOW the few friends I have who are black do have times they are insulted and hurt. BUT they have climbed the ladder against odds, two are general contractors the other a lady banker.
Breaking that 'blue line' will be hard, but it does need to be done legally, somehow.
Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad


So much change is still needed. It is easy for us to say how much things have improved...and they have, but tonight I listened to a group of black pastors share personal experiences in which they have been treated unfairly by police, simply because they are black. It seems to be a pretty universal experience, which most white folks have NO CLUE about.

Grown men being stopped and asked for their ID and "what are you doing in this neighborhood?" "I live here!" One of them driving his church van.

Still a lot of work for us to do.

Thanks for your response, Cojak!
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6/1/20 9:24 pm


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