Thursday, February 8, 2018

Least Prejudiced Person

It's rare that anybody in the Trump family makes me laugh, but Donald, Jr. actually caused me to audibly chuckle yesterday.

Good son that he is, he was (again) defending his father and among many things he said was to state that he didn't understand all the comments about his father being a bigot because he was the least prejudiced person you'd want to meet.  "Just look around the walls of his house," he said, saying that there were all sorts of pictures of his father with African American people.  They showed some of them and they all looked like they were taken at social gatherings, where Senior has his arm around this or that famous African American and both are smiling.

Surely that proves it!

I suspect my father would have thought of himself as non-prejudiced, but that claim was put to the test when my sister became friendly with a guy who worked on the cable cars and he asked her to go to the movies with him.  My father went to the cable car museum, found the guy, and told him he was sure that he was a very nice guy, but he felt that the races weren't meant to mix and that he could not take his daughter out.

It was some time later when he encountered a member of the Black Panthers and apparently they had an argument about race.  My father apparently insisted to this guy that he wasn't prejudiced at all, and to prove his point he invited him to come home with him and he would show him his Art Tatum records.

Tatum was a god to my father and he had all of his records.  But I suspect if Tatum wanted to take Karen to the movies my father would not have let him.

Hearing him tell this story later, Walt and I decided that the only reason the angry Black Panther guy didn't beat him up was because he was laughing so hard at this old white guy trying to prove he was not prejudiced by showing him records of African American jazz musicians!

(I often wondered how my father felt about that date with the African American cable car guy when my sister brought home her girlfriend and announced she was a lesbian.)

There were times when I wished I could talk to Karen about our upbringing.  Watching the Trump faithful and hearing the terrible things they say about any non-white person, watching their children repeat those words, it makes me wonder how Karen and I didn't grow up with a predisposition to hate non-white people.

Though she worked with an African American man whom she considered a friend and whom she obviously loved, I always shuddered watching football games with my mother because she was sure to point out many, many times how many black men were on the team.  She seemed to pay more attention to the color of the players than the actual game itself.

It was worse when she married again.  Fred was a nice man who treated her like a queen and she loved him so much so I never said anything, but he and I crossed paths many times.  He was prejudiced about everybody.  One day when we were alone and my mother was at the store, he had terrible things to say about the gay community until I finally stormed out of the house saying "You know you're talking about my sister."

He and my mother had a big RV and they loved to go on trips.  How she loved those trips!  They invited me to come along once when we were headed to a quasi family reunion in Oregon.  It would be 3-4 days in the RV and it sounded like fun.  By the time we got home, I just wanted to get away from him.  He talked about every ethnic group in the world and always used the pejorative term for talking about everyone.  What was worse is that my mother echoed what he said and laughed at his offensive jokes.  I didn't really forgive him, but I didn't want to confront him because of how my mother felt about him and how happy I was that she finally had someone who loved her.  I just avoided him whenever possible after that.

She doesn't watch football any more and most of her caregivers are of some darker skinned ethnicity and she loves them, so while she might not be "the least prejudiced person you'd ever want to meet" at least she doesn't think about race or ethnicity any more.  The perks of Alzheimer's are few, but this may be one of them.

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