I'm white

I grew up in the deep south in the '50's. Racism/ bigotry was rampant. My neighborhood was full of good "Christian" people who attended church on a regular basis. But throughout the week, in many different conversations, I would hear these same people, unashamedly use the "N"-word. I really didn't understand how wrong it was until I met "Bug".

Bug was black

I was an only child of alcoholic parents. My father was a man in poor health who worked in a steel mill. On Saturdays, when chores needed to be done around the house, dad brought home a man from work, by the name of Bug. Bug was a gentle giant; kind and strong.

And here's where the puzzle began for me. When we stopped for lunch, Bug couldn't come inside. He was served out on the back porch. And when he was done, his silverware was washed and stored separately from ours. There was a towel and a glass that was used only by Bug. I didn't know the word at the time, but the notion of racial prejudice had just taken hold in my mind. It changed the way I looked at the world. Another word that developed later but was born here, was hypocrisy.

These were "good Christian people" who treated people of a different color as if they had a disease. Decades later, I would see the same intolerance affect gays.

I didn't understand it then, and I don't now.

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