Sunday, September 11, 2005

This is My Body

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One of the things I love about my faith community is that we do actually behave much like a family. We spend a lot of time in casual fellowship. This is very different from most of the churches I have attended in the past, although I would not want to posit that is indicative of churches across the board. Frequently we go to dinner after our Sunday service. This Sunday was special...
This Sunday I ended up having dinner with a group which included two married couples I had not had a chance to get to know. They were very familiar with New Orleans. some at the table had family there, some deeply affected by the hurricane. We had a very interesting discussion about the French Quarter, etc...
but towards the end of our meal the discussion turned to Mississippi. It just so happened that one of the women, Bertie was raised in Money, Mississippi. If you don't know, Money is the location of the infamous Emmett Till murder. In fact Bertie had seen Emmett Till playing checkers on the porch of the store which was the site of the alleged wolf whistle.
Bertie told us that back in those days there was no where for them to use the bathroom, so they had to go down under a bridge to relieve themselves. One day her fifteen year old cousin was doing just that. He stood up to pull up his pants and had the very unfortunate luck of doing so while a White woman was walking past. The next thing he knew he was up against the wall of the store with a barrage of pistols held to his head. He spent 15 years in prison for being a 15 year old kid with no where to use the bathroom. You know, I've read about this stuff all of my life, but somehow every time I hear a first hand account such as this one it affects me totally differently. It cuts me to the quick. I can't explain it. Its not a textbook anymore. It isn't a book I checked out of the library. Its sitting there in front of me in flesh and blood detail.
Bertie also told us about how a black man walking down the street wasn't allowed to look at a white woman's underwear hanging out to dry on the clothes line. Another African American woman at the table talked about how just being able to navigate going out the door everyday was a matter of survival. Another young woman sitting at the table told of a young White man from Mississippi who did not know it was illegal to kill a Black person until he was grown and joined the service. Bertie said that she had never gone to church or school with a White person while she lived there. In fact she had never even been to the movies until she moved.
You know I hear from my family and others that they support the "war on terror" because they don't want to be afraid to walk out of their doors. They say it as if it is a new thing in America. Far from it. It's a new thing for White America.


Dan Trabue said...

Powerful, powerful stories. Keep sharing them.

voixdange said...

I actually talked to Bertie after dinner and told her I want to sit down with a tape recorder. I'm going to see if I can do a church wide project of this nature.

Dr. Mike Kear said...

That would be awesome, Angel!