As Roy Blunt, Jr., might put it, I have been a long time leaving the South. I've periodically returned to visit the few remaining friends and family I have there. There have been times when I felt like I was entering another country and needed a passport. My last visit was one of those times.
On the morning after my arrival, the headlines in the local paper focused on my old high school. It seemed the school board of my old alma mater was focused on a controversy over an article published in the school yearbook by a gay student who just happened to be black regarding his experience of being a gay student who just happened to be black. As we all know, life is not easy for these young men and women.
Apparently, a number of the parents of other students in the school were “outraged” and expressed this outrage to the school board, calling the article “inappropriate.” They demanded that school staff be “held accountable for what had happened.” The board promised a “fair and full” investigation and that “they were working toward a permanent solution so that a situation like this never happened again.”
There were parents who spoke in support of the journalism teacher who had overseen the publication. Many of them pointed out that this was not about sexuality but was about difference and about the acceptance of difference.
We should not forget that we and our sons and daughters face adversity every day. It may come in the form of “full and fair” investigations, but it has to do with prejudice and racism. Both remain quite well and alive in this country. We do not live in a colorblind society. Students in our schools continue to be bullied on a daily basis because they are different, either physically, mentally, emotionally or because of their sexuality. But this is the kind of adversity that we can take steps each day to end. I will be writing a letter to the editor and send a copy to the school board. Small steps do add up. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to speak up when you see racism and prejudice and to confront those around you who believe we have gotten past all of that. It exists. Not just in the Old South, but throughout this country.
This form of adversity will only end when we end it.