Hindsight and Now

Looking back, I 

glimpse

the racial hatred that

simmered in my own

extended

family

and the church 

I attended 

when visiting 

my grandparents. 
I helped my grandpa

hand out bulletins

as people 

walked into 

the sanctuary. 

In the early seventies 

I remember him,

tall, weathered,

blue-eyes

matching his light blue

summer Sunday suit,

standing at the church

doorway, 
discussing with another

church deacon

the problem of 

those “n—-s!

taking over.”

He repeated a similar 

diatribe against

Negroes (the appropriate word 

used then) at the family

dinner table one 

evening, along with

the hateful words

“greasy, lazy”.

I was shocked then,

because I loved my grandpa

and I knew his behavior was

wrong. 
Years later, I met

my beautiful friend,

Mary. 

She was an ordained 

Episcopal priest, 

who had also been

a model. Her elegance

and style made her 

seem younger than her years. 

She told me the story 

of moving as a child, with her large,

sharecropping family 

to a new town. 

Together, they walked

a couple of miles

to a new church. 

They were barred from 

entering the sanctuary 

because of their 

dark-colored skin. 

I gasped as Mary told me this. 

She gave me a steady look, saying:

“You know this happened.”

She said it as a firm 

fact.
And the years rolled away 

as my hindsight confirmed the

truth of her experience 

and our nation’s 

sin. 

I had only been 

too comfortable 

in my own life

to forget for a time,

the scars that

others bear for 

the blame, 

scapegoating 

of

the other. 
Having privilege 

means, in part,

blindness 

to your own 

privilege. 

Just now, none of us

can afford to

not see

where the blame and hatred

that boils up generation,

after generation,

is driving 

us. 
©Laurie Lynn Newman 

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2 thoughts on “Hindsight and Now

  1. I remember a similar experience with my grandfather- usually the gentlest kindest man you’d ever meet – I too was shocked at his words.

    We all have a lot of work to do don’t we.

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