Recently, I have been emotionally distraught over the disgusting act of cruelty that happened to Constance McMillan. I cannot understand how, 40 years after the Civil Rights Movement began, we are still teaching each other that it is alright to hate others because they are different or because we don’t agree with them. I cannot understand how Christians really believe they are doing God’s work by lying about His supposed hatred with someone else and how they could think that treating His children like this would be an effective way to encourage them to attend their churches.
Anyway, I could go on and on about how sick this is, how wrong this is, how I hope Constance is listening more to those who are sending her love and support than to those idiots who are trying to get her to hate them back and how I hope she knows that she is perhaps the strongest teenager I’ve ever heard of for going up against an entire town and enduring this with grace. And I could especially go on about how I dread the day that I will have to explain, with shame and embarrassment, that people actually humiliated, beat and killed other people simply because they wanted to love someone that other people didn’t agree with, much like how my parents explained Segregation to me.
However, I think The Bloggess did this topic the most justice with far more poise and eloquence than I could so I’ll send you in that direction and work on trying to forgive these hateful people in my own heart.
My point in posting this particular entry is simply to state this:
In 2000, I attended the Soccastee High School prom with a girl. There were no questions asked. There were no raised eyebrows. There were no death threats. There was no press coverage. There was no picketing, no rallying, no angry parents screaming about how we were evil and wrong. There was only a prom in a small town in South Carolina where everyone did the same things that all teenagers do at proms across the country – got nervous beforehand, ate at a restaurant while way overdressed, danced a little, talked about what everyone else was wearing, got drunk afterward, perhaps lost their virginities, etc.
Whether or not we attended the prom together as friends or as lovers was never asked of us by anyone. Nobody pointed and laughed when we had our picture taken together. Nobody made snide remarks under their breath. Nobody stopped and stared when we went out on the dance floor together. It was peaceful. It was normal.
This was ten years ago in a state that only took the Confederate flag off their capital building a month later.
My point is that there is hope. Just like in any group of people, the loudmouthed, ignorant idiots cannot be expected to define the whole bunch.
Although it is rare in any region, I was raised in a family that believed in unconditional love. My parents and grandparents taught me to be colorblind, to ignore others’ social statuses, to believe in the goodness of people without smothering them with stereotypes before I’ve even met them. In my house, anyone was welcome around our family’s dinner table as long as they used their manners and didn’t smoke or drink in the house. My family taught me to forgive people who wanted to hate me and judge me and make my life difficult because they thought I was different. They taught me not to fight hatred with hatred and how I would be a better, more peaceful person if I learned to forgive and love. My parents told me that this is what Jesus taught and that’s why they were proud to call themselves Christian. I don’t think they ever thought that hatred was an option, even though I’m sure they were tempted on a daily basis.
This is what I was taught to believe. This is what I intend to instill in my child(ren).
I am not unique because of these traits. And I am Southern, too.