Looking back on your early childhood you see all the things you did without hesitation.
Just like Mr. McLaurin playing a pickup game of basketball wasn’t unusual for the teams to be interracial. The team captain choosing the players based of their skills not on their skin. Like many kids in today’s world were prejudice still exist in some places. We are thought not to judge someone for the color of their skin. Growing up in the small town of Wade, North Carolina.
Young McLaurin, raised to never mistreat, insult, or purposely be rude towards colored people. “colored people have souls too,” grandma. Thought that Southern white folks have superiority but to never call them the “N” word, a word poor white folk used. McLaurin and James Robert Fuller Jr.
everyone called him Bobo. Had known each other their entire life. Bobo had grown up behind granddaddy’s. McLaurin seeing Bobo as nothing more than ordinary.
Often looking down on Bobo for his difference in color of skin, but soon teaches McLaurin what he actually held over McLaurin. Bobo’s attempt to air up the basketball had failed, handing it over to McLaurin in attempt to remoisten the needle not thinking anything about it, but soon realizing what he had done. Trying to play it off as if nothing had happened and not give Bobo the impression that he was concerned about sharing saliva with a person of color.
Once they headed back to continue the game. He snuck around to rinse his mouth out to get rid of the germs that Bobo has. Begging to realize what was segregation really was and what Bobo held over him. Understanding that there was nothing he could do about the color of his and Bobo skin color.
That reason alone would set them apart in the reality of the time period. Raising questions that he would discover later on in life but never answered. Granddads are often someone who we look up to, to learn about life from.
McLaurin learned by example of what segregation was. Granddaddy was a well know man in Wade, many of the African-American folks of wade look up to him. Always caring and kind, lending them credit from the store to get the groceries they need or other the gas for their cars.
Often sought after for advice rather than credit. At times he would call Colored folks names but never dumb or stupid, never implied that they were less then human. Also whites who didn’t meet his standards. Though being an older white male in the 1950’s he could and would denounce people of color, rarely done in public, unless failure to pay debt, or preform a service as promised. His behaviors often confused McLaurin, acting in ways that defied the racial mores of a Southern white community. He respected them and was found of their company. Many of his former neighbor who lived in different towns now would came back to town to see Mr.
Lonnie, often bring gifts when seeing him. Often times we get caught up in the moments of the time and are persuaded by what is social excepted at the time, and not take a minute to look at things. At times he would use racial slurs to those who wouldn’t take no as an answer or someone who owed on their debt. Was also one to be compassionate towards them enjoying the company of old friends that came to ask favors from him. Though Mr. Lonnie knew where he stood in the community, but was kind to everyone and everyone looked up to Mr.
Lonnie. “Such contradictory behavior was not unusual, and certain extreme examples remain permanently etched into my racial consciousness, reminders of the complexity of segregation as it was practiced those who, like Granddaddy, saw themselves as the guardians of at least certain members of the lesser race”-McLaurin Skunky, the oldest of three siblings, receiving his name due to the lack of personal hygiene. Dropping out of Jr. high to go into the work force. McLaurin recalls it painful to watch, to see him work for an occasional check. Since being too young to join the logging crews, he worked serval farms in Wade year-round, mainly just tobacco fields. Making enough money in a week to afford new jeans or a new work shirt.
When coming into the store McLaurin would wait on him always being straight forward with the things he wanted. Granddaddy for obvious reasons never extended credit to skunky, barely making enough money to get by for the week. McLaurin and skunky never conversed outside of the things that he needed, skunky was isolated by his poverty. As time went on McLaurin began to realize the tragedy that skunky represented, and to see him as a victim to segregation. Skunky’s little siblings would often come to the store when McLaurin would be working, always angered by this. Always clothed in unkempt, often filthy clothes. Troubled by their poverty, McLaurin came to the realization of his position in the world that he lived in.
One that he preferred not to acknowledge. Leaving the store with the goods they needed, McLaurin never offering them a ride home. Stating their poverty and race was all too obvious, that their presence was a crime to segregation. McLaurin going back to Wade and visiting with Allen ask “of course, segregations. But what about race? “There are some who aren’t happy with the situation, but they can’t do anything about it.
For the most part, we get along. There’s people of my race I don’t want anything to do with, just like there’s people of your race you don’t want anything to do with. And there’s people of your race that I’d rather be with than some of my race. But the racism is still there.” Just like in today’s world is still exists while some try to deny it but the truth is it very well exist. Often more times than not we get caught up with the world and join in on the things that we know are wrong.
Not taking into account of how our actions can impact someone’s life. In our younger years of life were either bullied or the one doing the bullying, as life moves on we look back at the time and come to realization of what we had actually had done. In an act to change our past we raise our kids not to look down on someone for the color of their skin or the clothes on their back, to always be kind to others.