Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 16 (13): A book you've read that changed your views on something.

I grew up during the Civil Rights Era and remember seeing some of the atrocities on the news of the March on Montgomery and the swearing in of LBJ after the assassination of JFK. I was just a child, but my parents didn't shield me from such news. 

When my high school offered an Ethnic Studies course in lieu of US History II, I jumped at it. I read several books during this time whose stories I have never forgotten. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Black Like Me and a young adult fiction novel entitled The Barred Door all played pivotal roles in developing my sense of justice and fairness. The latter was about a young girl whose grade point average made her eligible for a scholarship (or valedictorian - it's been long enough, I'm not sure which), but because she was a minority, justifications were made by those in charge to give it to the favored white student whose grades were also good, but who was just below the protagonist by fractional points. It was age appropriate at the time and I felt a sense of rage at the unfairness of such attitudes that remains with me today. It's even more profound when you realize that the same scenario is still being played out at select high schools across this country even now. 

I've long believed, even before I could put it into words, that no one is better than anyone else just because of how they look or where they live or how much money they have. Through my parents' actions, I learned that all are equal. Although it was a lesson I might not have recognized at the time, it is one that I will forever be glad to have had.

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