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FACING RACISM<br />

A project of R.A.C.E. Muncie<br />

RECONCILIATION ACHIEVED THROUGH COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT<br />

with The Facing Project


The Facing Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization<br />

that connects people through stories to strengthen communities.<br />

Founded in Muncie, Indiana,<br />

by J.R. Jamison and Kelsey Timmerman,<br />

the organization has connected<br />

writers, storytellers, artists, educators, and community leaders<br />

in over 100 communities across the country.<br />

Hailed by The Huffington Post, Harlem World Magazine, and Soul Train<br />

as one of three oral history projects to watch,<br />

The Facing Project provides a model, tools, and a platform<br />

for communities to arm themselves with stories<br />

to begin crucial conversations on social justice issues—<br />

neighbor to neighbor, community to community—<br />

by discussing solutions<br />

and exploring healing<br />

through their own narratives.<br />

www.facingproject.com


FACING RACISM<br />

A project of R.A.C.E. Muncie<br />

RECONCILIATION ACHIEVED THROUGH COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT<br />

with The Facing Project<br />

http://racemuncie.facingproject.com<br />

Follow us on Facebook at Facing Racism<br />

Jay S. Zimmerman | Coordinator at facingracism@gmail.com


FACING RACISM PROJECT SPONSORS<br />

design group<br />

Mayor Dennis Tyler and Family<br />

Multicultural Center, Ball State University<br />

Annemarie Voss<br />

Kimberly Hamilton


Preface & Acknowledgments<br />

Facing Racism began at a series of meetings at the Muncie Public Library (MPL) where a<br />

diverse group of people from the community came together at the invitation of the Director,<br />

Ginny Nilles, to discuss a community read. A book is chosen to be read and discussed<br />

throughout the community. All the books discussed would deal with issues of race and racism.<br />

Those of us on the committee from the group R.A.C.E. (Reconciliation Achieved through<br />

Community Engagement) suggested that, instead, we create a Facing Project focused on<br />

issues of race and racism in Delaware County. After talking with the founders of the Facing<br />

Project, Facing Racism was born as a project of R.A.C.E. Muncie. We are extremely grateful<br />

to the following: Ginny Nilles, MPL, and Yvonne Thompson, Director of the Muncie Human<br />

Rights Commission for providing the initial funding to the Facing Project that launched<br />

Facing Racism; to Mayor Dennis Tyler for his early personal financial support and to the<br />

Muncie Action Plan for their willingness to be the fiscal agent for the project.<br />

Following the model established by J.R. Jamison and Kelsey Timmerman for the Facing<br />

Project, Facing Racism tells the first-person stories of individual experiences with racism and<br />

perceptions of race. The Facing Project is a model for developing community awareness and<br />

integration through first-person narratives and “connects people through stories to strengthen<br />

communities” (www.facingproject.com/about). The project brings together writers and<br />

storytellers, those with stories about a particular issue, and culminates in a book and a<br />

community event(s) to bring the stories to the public. Hopefully, it would enhance awareness,<br />

create dialogue and impact change. We are also very indebted to Kelsey and J.R. for taking a<br />

special interest in this project, giving unsparingly of their time to consult with us and initially<br />

editing all the stories. They also provided help proofreading the final copy of the book that<br />

emerged. Their commitment and depth of involvement have been phenomenal<br />

This project could not happen without people willing to tell their stories, to share their pain<br />

and suffering, anguish, fear, and tears, as well as for some, their personal struggles with their<br />

own racism. There are also stories of great triumph, enlightenment, overcoming of challenges<br />

and coming to terms with the impact of race and racism. These storytellers were open and<br />

brave, revealing themselves so that others might grow from their experiences. We cannot thank<br />

them enough. And then there are the writers who built relationships with storytellers and used<br />

their talents to take on the voice and persona of their subjects. By writing in the first person<br />

they brought to life a variety of unheard voices while keeping the anonymity of their subjects<br />

unless the storytellers gave permission to be identified. We thank you, too.<br />

The stories will also be presented in a theatrical format. We are so appreciative of Muncie Civic<br />

Theater for producing the first public enactment of the stories and especially to Michael Daehn,<br />

faculty member in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State University for coming on<br />

board and writing the script and working with Laura Williamson, Executive Director of Civic<br />

Theatre to recruit actors and co-direct and produce the opening performance. We knew we<br />

were in excellent hands when these two talents signed onto this project. Thank you.<br />

There are many people who have worked diligently to make this project a success. The<br />

Steering Committee who worked on Facing Racism provided their knowledge, expertise,<br />

guidance and support, inspiration and hard work. Special thanks goes to Renae Mayes who<br />

took on the job of Chief Editor and worked with writers and other editors to get the stories in<br />

perfect form for inclusion in the book. Thanks also to Tania Said who took on the initial task of<br />

recruiting and pairing of writers and storytellers. Michelle Kinsey has handled the publicity for<br />

the project, set up our Facebook page and twitter feed and provided her guidance on the best<br />

ways to advertise the project. Thanks to WIPB and IPR for whom she works for partnering<br />

with us in this endeavor. Other members of the Steering Committee include Jason Donati who<br />

manages our web page, Ruby Cain, Yvonne Thompson, Daniel and Lynne Stallings, Laura<br />

Williamson, Maude Jennings, Joshua Holowell, Kimberly Hamilton, Kevin Nolan and Kelby<br />

Stallings. Thanks also to Emilie Carpenter for volunteering her photographic skills.<br />

3


No project of this magnitude can be successful without the financial support of the<br />

community. In addition to the support mentioned earlier we are deeply appreciative of the<br />

Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County and the Champions for a Safe<br />

Community who provided the major funding for Facing Racism and saw its benefit for our<br />

community. We are also grateful for Whitely Community Council, The YWCA, Muncie Black<br />

Expo, the NAACP and Motivate Our Minds for being our sponsors as well as the Islamic<br />

Center of Muncie, The Boys and Girls Club of Muncie, Stallings Wealth Management and It is<br />

Well with MySoul. Thanks also go to the Multicultural Center at Ball State University as well<br />

as individuals including Annemarie Voss and Kimberly Hamilton.<br />

A lot of hands working together with a strong commitment make positive things happen. It<br />

is our hope that these stories affect lives, open minds, produce constructive dialogue, educate,<br />

inform and ultimately lead to change. Stories are powerful. They can change lives by bringing<br />

home the personal experiences of people’s “neighbors,” people in our community who we<br />

may see and pass by daily but do so unaware. The exposure to these personal stories has been<br />

deeply moving for all of us working on the project who have read them. We hope they do the<br />

same for you. Through understanding that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers we can<br />

move forward to create significant change in our community.<br />

Jay S. Zimmerman<br />

Project Coordinator<br />

Facing Racism<br />

4


C O N T E N T S<br />

FACING RACISM<br />

Preface & Acknowledgements Jay S. Zimmerman 3<br />

Introduction to Facing Racism, 2016 Dr. Maude Jennings 6<br />

Maria Williams-Hawkins: The Question Mark Lizz Alezetes 9<br />

Cornelius Dollison: Facing the Fight: Systemic Racism in Muncie Lauren Bishop-Weidner 11<br />

Lonna Jordan: Lonna’s Poem Michael Brockley 13<br />

Michael Timothy Duerson:<br />

Transcending Racism with Culture and Pride Dr. Ruby Cain 15<br />

Emily: The Dreams of the Hopeful Youth Maggie West 17<br />

Daniel (anonymous): When the Unrest Came to Middletown Melinda Messineo 18<br />

Mary Dollison: Fighting Racism with Love Lauren Bishop-Weidner 20<br />

Jayla Scaife: In the Punch Line Travis Graves 22<br />

Sam Abram: Facing Racism with Help Lauren Bishop-Weidner 24<br />

Anonymous: On Not Feeling Safe Resa Matlock 26<br />

Legend (anonymous): You Don’t Know What God Look Like,<br />

So How You Gonna Be Racist? Stephanie Winn 27<br />

Ella McNeary: A Battle to Fight Lenore Allen 28<br />

Tom Carey: Cutting Up. Getting Along. Working Together J.R. Jamison 30<br />

Christine Satory’s Story: A Person Without a Story,<br />

A Person Without a Name Michael Brockley 32<br />

Yvonne Thompson: The human right to be seen,<br />

the responsibility to see Kelsey Timmerman 33<br />

D.P. (anonymous): “We’re all messed up,<br />

but we all came out of somewhere, you know?” Deborah Mix 35<br />

Jason Donati: Uprooting Racism Josh Holowell 36<br />

Daniel Stallings: Sunrise, Sundown Jackson Efflin 38<br />

Anonymous: Enemies Out of Allies Ari Hurwitz 40<br />

Karen Dowling: A Cultural Racial Identity Struggle Annemarie Voss 43<br />

Miles and His Father’s story (anonymous)<br />

Father wants justice after son arrested Christine Rhine 45<br />

Fred Long: I See Things More Clearly Now Beth Messner 47<br />

Matt Bailey: Another Kind of Racism Barbara Miller 49<br />

Tonikia Steans: Good Anna Groover 51<br />

Renae Mayes: Who’s on Your Team? Taylor Wicker 53<br />

Heather Gilvary-Hamad: The Need to Belong:<br />

The Life of a Muslim in America Angela Jackson-Brown 55<br />

Charles Payne: A Long Road Travelled Steve Knote 57<br />

Muriel Weeden: I Prefer to Be Called Muriel Levi Todd 59<br />

Dr. Ruby Cain: Sink or Swim; in Code Aimee Robertson-Fant 60<br />

Vivian Morrison: Time Warp Sherri Beaty 62<br />

Richard McKinney: The Anger is Mine Tom Steiner 63<br />

Mina Saaman: Hospitality Josh Holowell 65<br />

Lynn (anonymous): Living in My Neighborhood Chris Bavender 67<br />

June Payne: Ok I’ll do it Travis Graves 69<br />

WaTasha Barnes Griffin: It Shouldn’t Matter Seth Carrier-Ladd 71<br />

Mia Johnson: The New Racism Andrea Wolfe 73<br />

Rashid Shabazz: I Was Mad, Real Mad River Lin 75<br />

Shalia Gupta: Learning From Our Children Clarissa Bowers 77<br />

Deanna (anonymous): What’s on the Menu? WaTasha Barnes Griffin 79<br />

About Our Writers & Storytellers… 81


FACING RACISM: 2016<br />

An Introduction<br />

by Dr. Maude Jennings<br />

6<br />

On 30 May, 2016, Roots (revisited) was shown on national television. As a black woman I have<br />

some strong reactions about this program, especially in the light of this current project. You see,<br />

forty years ago a version of life for Africans arriving in America was a story that many Americans—<br />

black or white, had never considered dramatic before. This was due, in part, to the fact that the<br />

history of Africans in this country was not a pressing problem; the story was not essential to the<br />

America being celebrated at the time—not to the nation’s dreams or its aspirations then. There<br />

was the pride in achieving 200 years of a dream and little attention could be paid to anything<br />

that besmirched that dream. Slavery was such a distraction—except that it was and it held a nation’s<br />

attention for one week. Except that it remained on a “back burner”; every once in a while it echoed<br />

or irritated the national conscience.<br />

And then there were the “other” others—the Native Americans, currently the Muslims<br />

and all “other” others yearning to breathe free. Native Americans have been decimated.<br />

Apparently, not tractable enough to be made slaves, so relegate them to “reservations” where<br />

defeat, degeneration and despair reign as “wards” of the nation. What would such treatment be<br />

called in a Fascist state? Oh, yes. Concentration Camps where the residents are concentrated<br />

so they can concentrate on living lives less than their conquerors.<br />

And then there are the Muslims, who dare to call their “God” by another name, who dare to<br />

have different styles of dress, and different times and even positions of worship…and to make<br />

matters even worse, beside the Muslims, what about those people whose life-callings are not<br />

part of the “gingerbread” mold of the nation’s norm?<br />

The history of these United States is filled with its public assertions of its democratic intent<br />

as it marches toward the future. Things do take time, but it appears to these unhappy few<br />

that the time to become the ideal that was initiated in the 18th century needs to be more<br />

fully realized now in the 21st century. Time has passed and now a project like Facing Racism<br />

surfaces in a Midwestern state that once supported the Ku Klux Klan. What has happened?<br />

How comes such communal support for Facing Racism? Surely there have been changes in the<br />

nation since 1976. Why now?<br />

Well, consider some of these things. No denying there have been changes. Voting rights, other<br />

civil rights, equal opportunity, end of school segregation, and the list could go on, except each<br />

step forward has appeared to cause ten steps back. The water fountains don’t specify who can drink,<br />

but the schools do (Cleveland, Mississippi, as of 2016, has been ordered to integrate its school<br />

system); voter registration is taking hits (gerrymandering); environmental discrimination (Flint,<br />

Michigan water problems); and a presidential candidate in 2016 whose rhetoric has been hateful and<br />

incendiary. But why Facing Racism now? Because the stories of the aftermaths of abduction must<br />

be told. Because the psychological scars and the mental and physical degradation must be exposed.<br />

Because the stories of survival despite barriers must be revealed to the public. Because these life<br />

stories must be told to encourage the march toward a universal awareness of all<br />

humanity. Because what was once conceived as the greatest goal humans could aspire<br />

to by a few privileged men must now become a goal achievable for women and men<br />

regardless of color or religion or country of origin or sexual orientation or gender<br />

identity. Why? Because to do otherwise is to continue to lie to the world.<br />

In 1925, Langston Hughes wrote the poem, “I, Too.” He addressed the problems of<br />

being black in his time little realizing how his poem would remain meaningful nearly a<br />

century later…


I, Too<br />

I, too, sing America.<br />

I am the darker brother.<br />

They send me to eat in the kitchen<br />

When company comes,<br />

But I laugh,<br />

And eat well,<br />

And grow strong.<br />

Tomorrow,<br />

I’ll be at the table<br />

When company comes.<br />

Nobody’ll dare<br />

Say to me,<br />

“Eat in the kitchen,”<br />

Then.<br />

Besides,<br />

They’ll see how beautiful I am<br />

And be ashamed—<br />

Still, the stories reveal strength, resilience, and beauty—the beauty the poet spoke of. Although,<br />

as with everything this project reveals, there is another side. Recently, an extremely talented black actress<br />

was—even though commended for her performance—criticized because she was not a “classical beauty.”<br />

Was the inference that she wasn’t in the Hellenistic mode and that was the only accepted style of<br />

beauty? Explanations did not follow once the questions were raised. Was this yet another example of<br />

the way efforts by black women could be diminished? How was this to be interpreted? The Facing<br />

Racism project presents quandaries like that to ponder. And there are other instances which reveal how<br />

lives often had to be “re-directed.”<br />

Just recently, scientists have discovered that traumatic events (e.g. slavery, name-calling, discrimination,<br />

economic deprivation, academic disparities, poverty, etc.) affect the genetic structure of individuals. Imagine<br />

that. And if we add religion to the mix, could the changes bring recollections of a “krystallnacht”<br />

experience—and all that followed—only for a different religion? Who would have thought that<br />

somethings as simple as name changing (from Kunte Kinte to Toby, for example) would affect someone<br />

so deeply that his genome would be affected and that the change would be passed on to his progeny?<br />

And while this project may not explore in any great depth the alterations in the genetic structure of its<br />

contributors, it may very well open eyes to the pains experienced by those storytellers needing to be<br />

told of their poetic “beauty.”<br />

But time, inexorably, passes and other thoughts about life in these times surface. As if presenting<br />

a counter argument to the wistful hopefulness of Hughes, comes an article by Michael Henry Adams in<br />

a Sunday New York Times article about “The End of Black Harlem.” Perhaps this article is necessary<br />

to our assessments about the current state of affairs and why Facing Racism is needed. How did we get<br />

here? What has the journey caused us? And what has been the cost?<br />

7


8<br />

I include this assessment because Harlem is where I was born and lived until I was<br />

seventeen. It touches on some of the current unspoken or unappreciated issues affecting<br />

problems today. However, many of the “solutions” offered to erase the age-old problems of<br />

environment, economic and academic racism (n.b. Separate does not mean equal) frequently<br />

lead to displacement, discouragement and disillusion. Harlem has been viewed as one of the<br />

leading enclaves (i.e. “ghettoes”) for black people in the world. Harlem was ugly and beautiful<br />

at once. There were the dilapidated apartments, but there was also “Striver’s Row.” There<br />

were the store-front churches, but there was also Abysinnia Baptist Church. There was Father<br />

Divine, but there was Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X. There was the Schomberg library<br />

that saved me; the public schools and the Hearst Milk fund and Harlem Hospital which gave<br />

me my first job when I was eleven (I lied about my age) where I met Bessie Bearden, a New<br />

York councilwoman and mother to Romare Bearden, the painter, who was so kind to me as<br />

she urged me to stay in school. And Augusta Savage and the exposure to art, and Hughes at<br />

the library...and now it is all becoming gentrified. Which means change. It means removal and<br />

eventual disappearance. It means loss of its special identity. It won’t be the Harlem of music<br />

and art and musicians and writers or poets, or strivers and students or other transplants. It will<br />

be another New York address filled with big city “wannabes” or what Adams calls “urban<br />

pioneers.” And with an eyebrow raised, I ask, “But what were the black people who came<br />

first?” Weren’t they pioneers? Or is this yet another example of denying the black presence?”<br />

Must dirges be sung? If one bemoans the fact that an historic part of the nation’s history is<br />

about to fade into the mist, then yes. If one regrets the loss of places where “refugees” from<br />

intolerance and injustice is about to be eradicated in the name of progress, then weep.<br />

The new streets have deleted the memories. Even now, I would not recognize the<br />

streets I walked as a child. All is gone—and will, eventually be forgotten. The voices<br />

of all cry out for awareness!“ We are here. We only want to be what you claim to offer.<br />

And to understand us, we tell you about what we have lived and felt and survived.”<br />

Which brings me back to the project. Some of us have awakened to the fact that the<br />

American Dream has been a cruel nightmare for others. And some of us in an effort,<br />

possibly to remind many of us of the potential that still exists to make that dream a<br />

reality. It is with this intent that the stories about our lives, our experiences, our work,<br />

our children, our dreams and our recognition of the essential humanity of all, that this<br />

effort is made.


The Question Mark<br />

Maria Williams-Hawkin’s story by Lizz Alezetes<br />

Maria is 63 years old.<br />

Question marks fill the space between us.<br />

What separates us: Black…White…Yellow…Brown?<br />

Are you for me? Are you against me?<br />

When I was young, I asked to understand:<br />

“Daddy, why do White men have to stay on the front porch when they come by?”<br />

“Daughter, why do Black men have to enter through the back doors of White houses?”<br />

Question marks separate us.<br />

“Daddy, why do they want you to call White men Mister?”<br />

“Daughter, for the same reason White men call me Boy.”<br />

The question marks, indeed, separate us.<br />

When Daddy explained that the world is Black and White, I saw the question mark<br />

as a Shepherd’s crook, keeping me safe.<br />

In high school a White college girl offered to help me research my homework.<br />

When she came to pick me up, the question mark hooked my jacket, pulling me back.<br />

“Where do I sit?<br />

In the front, like her friend?<br />

In the back, like her maid?”<br />

The question mark became the hook upon which I hung all interactions.<br />

In college I walked home alone after my night class.<br />

A White boy said it was dangerous for me to walk alone and offered to walk me home.<br />

The question mark appeared.<br />

“Am I safer with him or alone against what lurks in the dark?<br />

Isn’t he what lurks in the dark?”<br />

The darkness seemed a safer option. Daddy’s Shepherd’s crook continued to<br />

guide me, to separate us:<br />

Black. White. Yellow. Brown.<br />

9


Sometimes the question mark of racism is pulled taut,<br />

forming a line as straight as a mouth full of contempt.<br />

The exclamation points form rows,<br />

The rows form columns,<br />

The columns form a wall:<br />

“You don’t belong!”<br />

It’s easier, safer to let that hook hold onto us.<br />

After time, our skin just grows over it,<br />

The question mark becomes part of us—<br />

It’s in our doubtful looks, raised eyebrows, lowered voices.<br />

Ripping that hook out—it’s painful, risky.<br />

In college I ran for a short-term student government office.<br />

The first quarter I lost by eight votes—<br />

and I met ten Black students who didn’t vote.<br />

They didn’t see the question mark; they knew the answer.<br />

“Can a Black student win?”<br />

Of course not.<br />

The next quarter I ran for a full term office.<br />

A Black guy asked,<br />

“Why waste your time?”<br />

But I wouldn’t let the hook catch me again;<br />

I became the first Black elected Student Government officer.<br />

Time passed. My Daddy passed. Laws passed.<br />

But the question mark lingered.<br />

That barbed hook must be pulled out, tossed aside,<br />

So that we have the freedom to step forward and connect.<br />

10


Facing the Fight: Systemic Racism in Muncie<br />

Cornelius Dollison’s story by Lauren Bishop-Weidner.<br />

Cornelius is 74 years old.<br />

My parents came to Muncie from Mississippi, after my dad realized that no matter<br />

how good a farmer he was, he would never succeed in the corrupt sharecropping system.<br />

Bad year, good year, it was all the same with the white landowners keeping the books.<br />

My father got a job in a foundry, and he encouraged his brothers and sisters to come<br />

north. I am an only child, but I sure didn’t grow up as one—our house was crawling with<br />

cousins. One family at a time, relatives would move in with us until they got a check<br />

or two ahead and could get a place of their own. Even when they moved out, we all<br />

lived close by each other in the Industry neighborhood, not far from where Millennium<br />

Place is now. When I was about 12, we moved to Whitely. We continued to host people<br />

coming up from the South—my dad always helped the community.<br />

With the move, I transferred from Blaine School to McKinley. At Blaine, I had been<br />

enrolled in Algebra, but the principal at McKinley discouraged all black kids from any<br />

college preparatory classes. “Oh, you don’t want to do that,” he told me, “I’ll just put<br />

you in General Math.”<br />

Looking back you see the racism, all that potential wasted. It’s really sad, how the<br />

school system kept black students out of challenging classes, just because of the color<br />

of their skin. Algebra or not, I finished school. And my jobs all required me to use the<br />

higher math skills he didn’t think I could learn.<br />

God granted me favor in my jobs by directing me to people willing to take a chance<br />

on a black man. I hired on at Westinghouse as an assembler, and then became the<br />

first African-American in Production Control. When I put in for that position, the<br />

supervisor told me no. I stood there fighting tears, and he decided to give me a chance to<br />

prove I could do the work. This was a management position, a real opportunity for me<br />

to develop and grow in a job usually reserved for white men. Eventually I transferred to<br />

Quality Control, where I did engineering-type testing, calibration, and inspection.<br />

My next job was in the Station Department of Indiana & Michigan Power, overseeing<br />

maintenance and new construction. The work was challenging both technically and<br />

intellectually. I’ve always felt very fortunate that they saw my potential as an employee.<br />

My last job before retirement was at the GM plant in Anderson. Anderson had the best<br />

Process Engineering department of any General Motors plant in the country at that<br />

time, with a lot of innovative new directions. I even got to work on developing the first<br />

computer for use in a car.<br />

When I graduated from high school in 1960, African-Americans in Muncie were<br />

expected to take menial jobs. We didn’t even have black teachers, let alone black bankers<br />

or managers. But during the 1960s, things started to change. As far as I’m concerned,<br />

Rev. A.J. Oliver of Shaffer Chapel A.M.E. gets the credit for opening up employment<br />

opportunities for Muncie’s black community. Rev. Oliver operated a lot like Dr. King,<br />

gently but firmly guiding civil rights work in Muncie. We did some picketing of local<br />

utility companies and downtown businesses. Rev. Oliver would ask the managers,<br />

“Why can’t we have some of our girls working as clerks and tellers?” or “You take our<br />

money but you won’t hire us to work for you?”<br />

Most of the businesses started to hire blacks—they didn’t like that negative publicity—<br />

but the manager at Pepsi just wouldn’t budge. Rev. Oliver tried all the usual tactics, and<br />

during one visit to the manager’s office, Rev. Oliver asked if he could use the phone.<br />

As he picked up the receiver, he casually asked who the manager reported to, and then<br />

called the guy’s boss—the president of Pepsi Cola! Pretty soon Pepsi was hiring us, too.<br />

11


12<br />

Muncie joined the nationwide sit-in to desegregate Woolworth lunch counters. The store<br />

was downtown on Walnut. Three or four of us sat down to order, and the girls behind the<br />

counter didn’t quite know what to do. They glanced back at the manager, who shook his<br />

head, so they said, “We can’t serve you here.” We just sat there. One whole business day we<br />

occupied that counter—and this was going on at all the Woolworth stores across the country!<br />

Woolworth’s finally relented, and other businesses followed suit. What sense does it make to<br />

turn down somebody who wants to spend some money for food?<br />

In those days, the downtown YMCA was for whites, and black kids hung out at the Madison<br />

Street Y. It was a wooden building with an outdoor basketball court on one side and a baseball<br />

diamond on the other. Inside we had pool tables and ping pong. I remember when I was little<br />

we had a swimming pool. It seemed so big, all that blue water. But when it developed a leak,<br />

they had to close it, and we didn’t have a pool until Tuhey was desegregated.<br />

Segregation is less obvious today, but it’s still there. We had college students just last<br />

semester who were warned not to go east of Martin Luther King Boulevard. They felt silly<br />

after they got to know the Whitely neighborhood—folks here would help anybody! Law<br />

enforcement has a long way to go, too. It’s a work in progress, for sure. But one person can<br />

make a difference. Rev. Oliver proved that.


Lonna’s Poem<br />

Lonna Jordan’s story by Michael Brockley<br />

Lonna is 53 years old.<br />

Do You Hear What I Hear?<br />

During the Christmas season, my friends and I gathered in the sanctuary at<br />

Trinity United Methodist Church where we recited Bible verses about the birth of<br />

Christ. The Grimes children turned somersaults and backflips. I tap danced with my<br />

brothers and sister to “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” At the end of the celebration,<br />

the congregation summoned Santa Claus with “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa<br />

Claus” as we circled the pulpit, anticipating the arrival of the jolly old saint. The<br />

women wore glorious hats, some with veils across their eyes, and others with orchids<br />

attached to bright ribbons. I wore a red, hand-me down dress my sister wore the year<br />

before. My friends giggled as we sang “Santa Claus comes tonight.” As the song drew<br />

to its close, Reverend J. C. Williams stepped into the doorway at the top of the stairs<br />

from the basement, bellowing “Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas.” He leaned forward<br />

with a red sack as large as a Nativity camel heavy upon his back. We sang of Jack Frost<br />

nipping at your nose, until our pastor sat in the worship chair to tell us the story about<br />

angels and shepherds and about the Three Wise Men and the star. The youngest babies<br />

rocked in the Reverend Williams’ arms as the deacons gave us the gift of Christmas<br />

books. “The Night Before Christmas.” “The Little Drummer Boy.” “Earth Angel,”<br />

a book Reverend Williams wrote himself. My first Santa Claus was a black man who<br />

welcomed a rainbow of black and brown and tan and white. And all the colors in<br />

between. This is my memory of peace.<br />

What a Friend We Have in Jesus<br />

When I asked him why God made me white and guided me to his church, Reverend<br />

Williams answered that everyone brings a gift to the table. That everyone has a time<br />

and a place and a purpose. As I combed the hair of my Trinity girlfriends, I questioned<br />

my blonde hair and fair skin. On television, policemen sprayed men and women who<br />

looked like my pastor with a fire hose. My pastor, who wrote poetry and ran for<br />

mayor. Whose father was lynched by people who looked like me. We drank lemonade<br />

in the kitchen in the basement of the church. I trusted the wisdom of this man who<br />

stood waist deep in the baptism river and lowered me into salvation. He said, “Those<br />

are not your sins.” And prayed I would not be silent in the presence of evil. Said my<br />

time to stand for justice would come.<br />

Through It All<br />

In the year Gloria Gaynor charted with “I Will Survive,” my dad co-signed a loan<br />

for me to buy a 1975 Chevrolet Malibu Classic. Silver with a black vinyl roof and black<br />

bucket seats that swiveled. $85.00 a month. I played Earth, Wind and Fire on my eighttrack.<br />

Stevie Wonder and Bob Seger. I christened my car “Silver Bullet.” I worked as a<br />

crew member at the Tillotson McDonald’s to make money for my payments. Ran the<br />

cash register. Cooked fries. Took drive-through orders for milkshakes. And I played<br />

touch football in the streets. Lettered in basketball, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics.<br />

I became one of the first females to be awarded a Bearcat varsity letterman’s jacket. I<br />

drove Silver Bullet to practices, to school, to work and to worship. Whenever I saw<br />

the lady, who taught me how to make fried chicken, waiting for a bus or walking to<br />

church, I always gave her a ride. Once a friend dared me to push Silver Bullet’s 350<br />

13


engine to 100 mph but, driving west on Kilgore by Warner Gear, I chickened out at 95. On<br />

Halloween morning, someone soaped and egged my car. Insulted my friends, the people I<br />

loved, with what they wrote on the car windows. The most hateful words I know. My dad<br />

reminded me people learn to hate because they have never been taught the way my mother and<br />

he had taught me. The way Reverend Williams and the Trinity ladies taught me about love. My<br />

dad helped me clean the car. We used warm, soapy water to soak and wash away the yolk and<br />

shells before they ruined the finish. I drove Silver Bullet to a Halloween party at church that<br />

night. Singing “Shining Star” with the windows rolled down to the forgiveness in my heart.<br />

Oh Happy Day!<br />

I came to God white, and through the grace of gospel and soul was baptized black. The<br />

Trinity Senior Choir, a procession of blue robes with red stoles, walking in step to gospel<br />

hymns. Lifting me up with “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” Summoning me to be someone<br />

better than I am by opening with “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch<br />

like me.” At every service, I hoped the Senior Choir would bless my life with “Just a Closer<br />

Walk with Thee.” All God’s music filled me with His Spirit. My father bought my first albums.<br />

Diana Ross and the Supremes. Otis Redding sitting on the dock of the bay. I sang “Stop in<br />

the Name of Love” with my sister, choreographed with turns and hand signals. Even today, I<br />

thrill to the sound of Jackie Wilson reaching for a love that lifts me higher. Dena, my sister and<br />

I brought heavenly kisses to weddings and worship services where we sang “Stand By Me”<br />

and “How Great Is Our God.” The ringer on my cell phone plays “Let’s Stay Together.” I still<br />

sing Earth, Wind and Fire with the windows rolled down. I hear “I’ve Got Christmas in My<br />

Soul.” I hope those righteous men and women will bear me to Trinity’s sanctuary to teach me<br />

one last glorious lesson to the chorus of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”<br />

14


Transcending Racism with Culture and Pride<br />

Michael Timothy Duerson’s story by Dr. Ruby Cain<br />

Michael is 58 years old.<br />

The integration effort in Muncie was for all grades, K-12, starting when I was in<br />

eighth grade, in 1971-72. Much of the South had integration before Indiana got on<br />

the wagon train. I always say the new South is more Northern, in that we live here<br />

in Indiana, in the old South. I transferred from Kuhner Junior High school to Storer<br />

Junior High school.<br />

The first year was challenging from an academic standpoint. I went from being ranked<br />

1 st in my old school in seventh grade to 25 th in eighth grade. Competition was much<br />

greater. I readily saw that subjects white students were proficient with were never taught<br />

at my seventh grade class. I had to work hard to learn the subject matter. All grading<br />

was based on the curve. That was interesting. It made it more difficult for us, because<br />

someone would set the bar high. I did not like being 25 th out of about 450 students in<br />

the eighth grade, not when I was used to being first in Math, Science, and even English.<br />

In my 1 st year at Storer, they took 100 kids from my neighborhood and blended in<br />

with 1,100 or so white students. We were each paired with a white student to be our<br />

guide. They teamed us up according to our curriculum, grade level, and our GPA. My<br />

guide was Dwayne Adrian who now is my doctor and godfather to my first child. We<br />

developed a friendship that lasted, even until today. We were in all classes together.<br />

We competed and ran track together. He was team trainer for our basketball team. We<br />

would go out to Pizza King as a group. Dwayne was a drummer in a band and I played<br />

piano by ear. We formed a band for school variety shows. In the middle of the song, he<br />

and I would sometimes exchange instruments.<br />

We were conscious of the racial divide. Dwayne offered to be my campaign manager<br />

when I ran for president of the seventh and eighth grades. My opponent, Phil Isenbarger,<br />

was very popular. We had a debate before the entire school. I felt I won the debate. With<br />

Dwayne’s help and guidance, I was elected. It was exhilarating.<br />

This elected position was hard work – dealing with issues from the school parties and<br />

extracurricular activities to being called to be a speaker on civil rights at the Chamber of<br />

Commerce. At this event, I sat next to the person who would become my future boss<br />

and mentor, Van P. Smith, Owner of Ontario Corporation, an aerospace company.<br />

We did not have any race riots at school, like on the south side of town during school<br />

integration. There were only 100 of us. We weren’t stupid. Being six or seven miles from<br />

home, we couldn’t pick a fight and run home. The odds were 11 to one against us.<br />

I seemed to be able to mix with the white students okay. It was probably, because I<br />

was competitive, academically. That demanded some respect. I was a starter in every<br />

sport. In high school, I won state in choir and sang solos. I was also a member of the<br />

City/County-Wide barber shop quartet. My mother’s cousin, we called her Aunt Doris,<br />

was a teacher in high school. I had her for music, four years in high school. I was in the<br />

swing choir, doing singing and choreography. There were maybe two Black teachers at<br />

high school and one at middle school. Mr. Damon Moore taught science. He became<br />

head of the Teachers Union in Muncie.<br />

High School basketball coach was a tremendous bigot. He did not want me to get in<br />

the scorers box with the highest scores. I led in rebounds and assists. He could not stop<br />

me there. I played varsity as a sophomore in High School.<br />

In my Junior and Senior year, the coach made sure I never received recruiting<br />

letters from colleges. The way I was recruited was that a guy from an all-white town,<br />

Greenville, saw me play. He contacted a coach at IUPUI who then reached out to me,<br />

directly. Taylor University also reached out to me. I wanted a Purdue degree so I went<br />

to IUPUI.<br />

I graduated on a Saturday and was a supervisor at Ontario Corporation on Monday.<br />

I was part of the company’s Co-Op program while attending IUPUI. I worked<br />

there for eight years. Smith, the owner, is still in Muncie and highly regarded in the<br />

Republican Party.<br />

15


16<br />

I drove Van P. Smith’s Winnebago for him and his colleagues to many events. I met Senator<br />

Lugar, Dan Quayle and other highly regarded Republicans. Van always introduced me to<br />

everyone. I met a lot of politicians that way.<br />

My college professor asked if I would like to test out of all English courses. I had written<br />

a paper for my senior year in high school, titled Sexuality of Racism. The white middle-aged<br />

high school teacher had given me a D on the paper. It included research on how white men<br />

held white women on a pedestal of purity and would go out back to have their way with Black<br />

women. I had done a lot of research to substantiate the paper. This was the same paper I used<br />

to test out of all required English courses at the university and got an A. I was only in the<br />

English class for four weeks.<br />

At IUPUI, I moved to Indy and continued to work for Ontario, located in Muncie. I worked<br />

as supervisor in the co-op program that allowed me to apply my learning in the workplace. I<br />

developed curriculum for managing engineers.<br />

As a benefit of being on the basketball team, I got a job in the union, at Detroit Diesel Allison<br />

at General Motors. By the time I was 21 and graduated from IUPUI, I was Vice President at<br />

Borg Warner Corporation.<br />

I was the first Black to be selected for the Board of Regents of Indiana University (probably,<br />

1979 and 1980). I was the first Black to be in management training program at Ontario<br />

Corporation. I was the first Black to graduate from School of Engineering with a B.S. degree in<br />

Industrial Management and Supervision at Purdue and a certificate in Industrial Engineering.<br />

The degree blended Engineering with Management, providing comprehensive skills for rapid<br />

promotion in my field. I completed the 5-Year program in three years and a semester.<br />

This may sound strange. Even though I am married to a white woman I am, now, more in<br />

tuned with blackness than when I was in school.<br />

I believe that I control racial transactions. My conclusion is drawn upon modern day “Jim<br />

Crow” functional choices: A function of character. I choose to rise above stereotypes of<br />

institutional blackness and thrive spiritually by practicing love.


The Dreams of the Hopeful Youth<br />

Emily’s story by Maggie West<br />

Emily is 12 years old.<br />

My parents taught me that I should never judge people. Everyone is equal and<br />

everyone is a person.<br />

My dad is the reason why I have a strong interest in these issues. He is a student and<br />

is studying Social Work. I love to go with him to talks and meetings about dealing with<br />

race and religion issues. It teaches me how to be open-minded and I feel that it makes a<br />

good impact on me.<br />

It all started before I was born. My aunt told my mom that she was ruining my life.<br />

I am mixed. I’m Mexican and American. My aunt believed that I wouldn’t be accepted<br />

by my Mexican or my American sides. The only reason she came to see me after I was<br />

born was because I looked white; not mixed.<br />

My parents are Muslim. My aunt doesn’t like that, because she is a Christian. She<br />

posted on Facebook: “All I need to know about Islam and Muslims is the first five<br />

minutes of 9/11.”<br />

As I’ve gotten older, I think she has changed her views. She doesn’t see me as anything<br />

other than a person. Even though we don’t talk as much, I hope to eventually have a<br />

conversation with her about these things. But if not, I still love her even if she made<br />

those bad decisions and choices. I will always love her; she is still my aunt.<br />

My friends at school accept me. A lot of my friends are of mixed race. When we<br />

talk about racial or religious issues at school, we like to educate each other instead of<br />

fighting each other about it. We learn that it’s better to learn the right things about each<br />

other instead of believing the wrong things.<br />

When I reflect on certain issues, I like to think about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.<br />

because he wanted everyone to be treated as a human being regardless of their skin<br />

color. One thing I believe could help ease racial and religious tension is jus t everyone<br />

having a civilized meeting about issues going on around the world. I want them to be<br />

able to talk about everything without violence and hatred.<br />

When I grow up I think I want to be an animator—drawing for video games. I think<br />

through my drawings and games I could set an example on being open about different<br />

cultures and ethnicities.<br />

I want to teach people that they shouldn’t judge others. I want to show people<br />

it’s okay to be themselves.<br />

17


When the Unrest Came to Middletown<br />

Daniel’s story by Melinda Messineo.<br />

Daniel is a pseudonym and he is 73 years old.<br />

Things were so tense at that point in the 1960s. We opened the fire station doors and there<br />

was this group of black men there blocking the exit. They were keeping us from going out<br />

on the call and I’ll tell you, we were scared. They weren’t angry at us in particular. They were<br />

just really angry and wanted to let whatever it was on fire just go on and burn. Another time<br />

there was this false alarm where as soon as the firemen were inside the building, a crowd of<br />

75-100 people surrounded the place. The firefighters at the truck radioed for help. It wasn’t<br />

until officers with a dog came that the crowd was dispersed. There were deliberate fires set,<br />

too. There was this one time when we were called out to a small structure fire. It was an<br />

outbuilding that was burning, but as soon as we got there, the house on the property just<br />

exploded. It burned in a way that houses do when the fire is intentionally set. It was timed to<br />

go off when we pulled up. We saw this other house where buckets of gasoline were strung up<br />

on hooks with fishing line. Only a small fire would be set but once that line would melt, it was<br />

bad news.<br />

And here I was this naïve young white guy, not really understanding what was going on.<br />

Who knows who set the fires. It doesn’t really matter. Looking back I see it differently. I<br />

know better now why people were upset, President Kennedy was gone, Martin Luther King<br />

was gone, and Bobby Kennedy, too. We were part of the authority as some people saw it. The<br />

unrest from what was happening in the big cities was making its way here and it was bad.<br />

You see, it wasn’t always like this here when we were growing up. We didn’t see any<br />

animosity in the neighborhood. I grew up in the working class part of town. It was integrated.<br />

In fact, we played baseball together. We never had issues. We were friendly. My dad took us<br />

to the dentist on the corner and I never thought about it until later that he was a black dentist.<br />

He was just who we went to…never even thought about it.<br />

As we got older things changed. Going to the high school you started to see differences.<br />

People were acting differently and treating people differently. Different groups would even<br />

use different doors. You could feel the tension; see it in people’s eyes.<br />

I remember one day some friends and I, we went to the carnival down the road. It was one<br />

of those mobile ones that would go from town to town. We lost track of time and weren’t<br />

paying attention to the fact that as white teens, we should have left already. People were<br />

nervous that we were there, anxious, upset, deciding what we were doing there still, if they<br />

should do something. Things were tense; we knew we shouldn’t have been there that late<br />

because it made things complicated for everyone. We just got ourselves out of there as quick<br />

as we could and didn’t look back.<br />

We all were just expected to stay in our own place. I remember there would be these dances<br />

in high school where the white kids would have their record hops which were nice and all, but<br />

the dances you really wanted to go to were the live music shows in the armory that the black<br />

community put on. I was lucky because my folks were involved at the armory, so I got to see<br />

all the great acts. Otis Redding, Mary Wells, The Drifters, Jackie Wilson, who was the best<br />

singer there was—this was before Michael Jackson—and I got to see him, to see all of them.<br />

Everyone should have been able to see them but it wasn’t that way back then. Things needed<br />

to change and they did change, but it was rough.<br />

There wasn’t a particular incident that I can point to as the start of it all. We had been<br />

isolated, protected from the unrest for a while and I think I know why. What we had then was<br />

jobs, and work, and people making a good living, a way to provide for their families. Maybe<br />

that’s why it took a while for the unrest to come. But I will tell you, I have seen ugliness, an<br />

ugliness that only comes from people when they are really afraid. You see, ignorance leads to<br />

fear which creates anger which makes hatred. And people, they become sick in a way, unwell,<br />

their mental health declines and they become overwhelmed by it all and get so angry. Though<br />

18


I have wondered, and nobody can answer this for me yet, I have wondered, is it the mental illness that causes<br />

the hatred or the hatred that causes the illness? Hatred can make you crazy, I have seen it…I have seen it destroy<br />

people. And it doesn’t have to be that way.<br />

You know, you aren’t born even knowing what race is…it has to be taught to you…someone has to tell you<br />

people are different and that difference means something. It don’t mean something unless someone says it means<br />

something, and even then it doesn’t really mean anything.<br />

People use it as a reason and as we get older, we need to be careful with our words because the kids are<br />

listening, that’s how they learn it. We need to work as a community to teach them. It takes all of us together<br />

to make a change. And what people don’t want to hear is that it is expensive to do it right. It takes time and<br />

money and people working together. We are all just too busy. When I was a kid, the police, they had time to<br />

mentor to get to know the kids in the neighborhood. Neighbors knew each other. We would help each other<br />

out. Now, we don’t invest, we don’t take the time. I worry now because I see it starting again…the unrest is<br />

coming back. It worries me. The Islamaphobia is starting here, it’s like 1967 all over again. People want to hide<br />

and not talk about it, but we have to talk about it, you know? We have to keep talking to each other and build<br />

relationships and learn from each other and not be ignorant about who we all are because we can’t afford to have<br />

that ignorance turn into hatred. It can’t happen that way again.<br />

We can’t let the unrest come again.<br />

19


Fighting Racism with Love<br />

Mary Dollison’s story by Lauren Bishop-Weidner<br />

Mary is almost 74 years old.<br />

Although I was born in Tangipahoa, Louisiana, my memories of the open racism of<br />

the segregated South are vague. My mother was very light, but her mother was extremely<br />

dark. We used to wonder why our mother was so fair, and her hair was so pretty, and she<br />

looked so different from her own family. Well, as we found out much later, her daddy<br />

was white. This was Louisiana in the early 1900s, and my grandmother was a domestic<br />

worker. She was married, but that didn’t matter to her abusive employer. He never did<br />

admit my mother or her sister. My mother could have sued her biological father and<br />

gotten some of his money, but she didn’t want anything to do with that man. She just<br />

wanted to get away from the whole situation.<br />

We moved to Muncie when I was 12. My mother worked at Green Hills Country<br />

Club, where she met Joel and Inez Reese, both of whom cooked in the dining room<br />

there. In addition to that job, Reverend Reese pastored the Kirby Avenue Church of<br />

God. Their adopted son, Vernon, was about my age, and even though we were just<br />

kids, Reverend Reese trusted us to lead the youth, a role we continued throughout high<br />

school. We made some mistakes—bossiness, tattling—but we learned valuable lessons<br />

about leadership, discipline, and flexibility. When Cornelius and I married, he joined me<br />

in leadership, and we are still working with the kids of Kirby Avenue Church of God<br />

all these years later. As a timid young girl with no confidence, working with children<br />

helped me to see a little of God’s plan, a plan that unfolded gradually.<br />

Around 1956, I started doing domestic work after school and weekends for a wealthy<br />

white family who lived near Ball State campus. Despite the racial stereotypes associated<br />

with domestic work, that job showed me a future I never could have imagined. I<br />

learned to cook a broad array of dishes, to set a formal dinner table, to make small<br />

talk with strangers. My vocabulary and my world grew larger from reading their travel<br />

magazines, studying the family’s fine art pieces, and reading their seemingly endless<br />

supply of books. Observing from behind the scenes, I saw what education can do, and I<br />

wanted to be a part of that world. With God’s help and Cornelius’ support, I completed<br />

a teaching degree in 1964.<br />

It wasn’t easy for a black teacher to find work in Muncie Community Schools at this<br />

time. Most African-American students were served by either Longfellow or Garfield,<br />

and these were the only Muncie schools with African-American teachers. I was given<br />

a first grade class at Longfellow that year, along with three other brand new teachers.<br />

I loved working with those women. We shared our lives and our passion for teaching,<br />

collaborating in innovative ways to give our students a solid educational foundation.<br />

Many of those first graders went on to complete college.<br />

In December 1965, my son Larry was born. When I returned to teaching two years<br />

later, Dr. Sam Abram was a rising star in Muncie Community Schools and the only<br />

African-American administrator. Although both Longfellow and Garfield had openings,<br />

he strongly encouraged me to request placement in a school serving white students.<br />

Three weeks into the school year, I was finally hired at Morrison-Mock. You could<br />

say the Dollison family integrated Morrison-Mock – I was their first African-American<br />

teacher, and my children were the first black students to enroll in regular education<br />

classes.<br />

When my children faced racism, and they did, I would talk to their teachers. I didn’t<br />

want special treatment, but I wanted what was right. Each situation was different, and I<br />

approached each one as a separate incident rather than as a pattern. At Morrison-Mock,<br />

especially in the early years, I sometimes surprised parents: “I didn’t know you were<br />

black!” they’d tell me. But children don’t see race as adults do. It’s our responsibility<br />

20


to demonstrate love and hope and opportunity to ALL children. My great-granddaughter recently asked her<br />

mother, “Why are you black, MeeMee’s white, and I’m brown?” She’s seeing colors, not race.<br />

In my family, we knew about hard work. We knew you needed to have a garden. We knew you needed to<br />

save money. These are good traits to have, but they are not enough. Children need nurturing and encouraging<br />

and empowering. Black people understand hard knocks, and sometimes the obstacles we face can make us hard<br />

people. If we look at individuals, and treat others as we want to be treated, we can fight racism with love. As<br />

my grandmother always told us—I can hear her in my head right now—“You reap what you sow.”<br />

Throughout my teaching career, I made a practice of inviting my students to share a meal with my family,<br />

a few at a time until everyone in class had a chance to participate each year. As we worked together to<br />

prepare the meal and clean up after, we learned about one another, getting to know each other outside of the<br />

classroom. The time together offered many teachable moments. We talked about hygiene—handwashing,<br />

proper dishwashing. We discussed nutrition: What makes a healthy meal? The children learned new words,<br />

such as “condiments.”I got to know parents, too, since they had to pick up their children. These individual<br />

relationships helped us to trust one another, regardless of race. If we look at the person first and the skin color<br />

second, racism doesn’t stand a chance.<br />

I’m not a stranger to the ways race can be used against us. But I believe in fighting with love, starting with<br />

the children.<br />

21


In the Punch Line<br />

Jayla Scaife’s story by Travis Graves<br />

Jayla is 18 years old.<br />

They always make jokes about Whitely, where I live,<br />

and how it’s the ghetto, broken down, and the worst<br />

place in Muncie, which it’s not. They don’t care what<br />

they say, they’ll say whatever. No matter who’s around,<br />

they’ll make jokes in class.<br />

Our teachers say they don’t know how to discipline<br />

them ‘cause the jokes aren’t that bad. Every time race is<br />

talked about in class it gets turned into jokes. We were<br />

watching some video in our government class about how<br />

we shouldn’t label people based on their skin color, and<br />

thirty seconds after the video was over they were making<br />

jokes about the black person in the video. I hated the<br />

Black Lives Matter movement because it just turned into<br />

jokes and they would say “all lives matter,” “all lives<br />

matter.”<br />

Really, I’m not amused by any attention brought to<br />

race and racism because it always gets turned into some<br />

joke that isn’t true and isn’t funny and doesn’t help.<br />

Most recently during Black History Month our teacher<br />

was planning on taking us on a field trip to the Capitol<br />

building in Indy for some Black History Month event.<br />

A few weeks before the field trip, one student counted<br />

the black kids in class. It was just me and another mixed<br />

boy. He started telling the teacher for everyone to hear<br />

we shouldn’t have to go because there were only two<br />

black kids. Because of this I really didn’t even want to<br />

go on the field trip knowing I would be made a target for<br />

mocking. One of the main guy’s that makes these jokes<br />

is a youth leader in a popular student Christian group at<br />

the schoo—a group that I’m also a part of. He’s actually<br />

gone on a mission trip to Africa and came back saying<br />

“we should help them,” but then also makes jokes about<br />

how dark they were. I don’t know what point he’s trying<br />

to make with his jokes, but they weren’t funny, and then<br />

he tried to apologize for it but his apology was more like<br />

he was sorry that I didn’t have a sense of humor.<br />

I’ve always gone to schools that don’t have that many<br />

black people, so I’ve been used to not having students<br />

around who were like me. There are quite a few black<br />

students at Central High School, but not in the advanced<br />

placement classes that I’m in.<br />

I never really caught on to the jokes that were made<br />

when I was younger, ‘cause they kinda went over my<br />

head, but as I got older I’ve caught on to the jokes people<br />

were making and took offense to them and have taken<br />

them personally, and I’m not expecting it to be better<br />

next year when I’m at college.<br />

22


In the Punch Line by Travis Graves<br />

Your words<br />

like flying fists<br />

lay hard against me<br />

and everyday I remain<br />

waiting to receive<br />

the dagger<br />

in my gut, on my chest.<br />

Cautious I move<br />

I sit and slowly eat<br />

so not to insight a thing<br />

as you begin to speak<br />

my throat seizes and I must think<br />

to swallow so I won’t choke<br />

when you strike<br />

and I lose my human dignity.<br />

Every day I can see it coming<br />

and tomorrow will be the same<br />

an oppressive reminder<br />

I’m not your equal<br />

my place you find me fit<br />

Is in the punch line.<br />

23


Facing Racism with Help<br />

Sam Abram’s story by Lauren Bishop-Weidner<br />

Sam is 78 years old.<br />

My father, Lonnie Abram, was the most efficient picker on the Money, Mississippi,<br />

cotton plantation where he sharecropped, a distinction that earned him $1.00 each week<br />

as well as permission to travel to Greenwood and to cut hair on weekends. In 1940s<br />

Mississippi, a person of color still needed permission from a plantation owner just to<br />

be on the roads. My father was valuable enough to the landowner that he was given the<br />

privilege to travel as well as to earn a little extra money barbering. A car accident left<br />

him with an injured right hand, poorly cared for in an outbuilding behind the hospital.<br />

As a result of the injury, he couldn’t pick cotton or use the barber chair on the street<br />

outside a business owned by a relative of the landowner.<br />

We moved to Muncie in 1944, staying with relatives until he got a job and could buy<br />

a house. Although my mother stayed in Mississippi, my father never let us lose touch<br />

with her. My father drove the nearly 1400 mile round trip in a weekend, making sure we<br />

got to Memphis by 6:00 a.m. in order to buy gas—any later, and we might not be served.<br />

Once we hit the Mississippi line, his caution increased greatly—remember, Emmett Till<br />

was murdered in Money, Mississippi. We’d head back to Muncie in time for my father<br />

to be ready for work at 6:00 a.m. Monday. From a very early age, I saw the sacrifices my<br />

father made for his family.<br />

Leroy Ash, a neighbor several years older than I, was like a big brother. He helped<br />

with homework and encouraged me to try new things. Kids from Mississippi didn’t just<br />

automatically fit in. We looked different, we sounded different. Some of the local boys<br />

took advantage, but Mr. Ash helped me to gain the confidence I needed. He worked at<br />

the Branch YMCA on Madison Street, and I’d go there after school. When I was new to<br />

softball, I wasn’t a very good hitter. After two strikes, someone would usually beg for<br />

my last strike. Seeing this, Mr. Ash asked me:<br />

“How many strikes do you get?”<br />

“Three,” I answered.<br />

“And how many are you taking?”<br />

“Two.”<br />

“Sam, you can’t give away the opportunities you’re given.”<br />

That advice stayed with me all my life.<br />

I used to follow Mr. Ash around the Y, helping out wherever I could. When I was a<br />

little older, I applied for a job there. Mr. Roy Buley, Director of the Branch YMCA,<br />

hired me because he’d seen me helping out and he trusted Mr. Ash’s recommendation.<br />

In the mid-1950s, the city planned a new building for the Madison Street YMCA, but<br />

it was to remain a segregated facility. Many in the neighborhood were overjoyed, but<br />

not Mr. Buley. Well known and highly respected, he’d walk through the community<br />

talking with people. He included me in these conversations, as he explained that we<br />

needed to desegregate the downtown Y if we were going to have equal access to facilities<br />

and programs. Mr. Buley’s logic escaped most, and plans for the new building came to<br />

pass. History proved Mr. Buley to be right. I was privileged to learn from his example<br />

of courage, dignity, and leadership.<br />

24


My first dream was to be an Air Force pilot, the result of stories I heard from one of my elementary<br />

teachers, Mr. Dygert, who had been a fighter pilot and a real hero. I enrolled in Ball State’s ROTC program,<br />

majoring in Social Studies, Driver’s Education, and Business. Halfway through my junior year, I passed<br />

everything I needed to in order to continue—except for the eye exam. I needed a new goal. With my major,<br />

high school teaching would have been a logical path. Unfortunately, Muncie was not hiring high school<br />

teachers who were Black, and I didn’t want to leave Muncie. At that time, Muncie had five Black teachers,<br />

all at one or the other of the two Longfellow Elementary buildings. After petitioning to take a double<br />

overload in order to complete the necessary credit hours for an Elementary Education license, I graduated<br />

on time.<br />

I was deeply committed to learning as much as I could during my student teaching at West Longfellow.<br />

I typed my lesson plans and organized my materials carefully, hoping my efforts would lead to a job offer<br />

for the following school year. I knew if I wasn’t hired at Longfellow, I wouldn’t have a teaching job—no<br />

other school in Muncie would have even considered my application. Mr. Burl Clark was principal, and we<br />

met twice that spring. The second time, he told me that he wasn’t going to recommend me because he was<br />

pushing for schools other than Longfellow to open up for teachers of color. Thanks to Mr. Clark, Doris<br />

Faulkner transferred from Longfellow to become the first African-American teacher in Blaine School, and<br />

I began that fall of 1960 teaching fifth grade at East Longfellow.<br />

While teaching, I continued my education and in 1966 became principal at Longfellow, a job I cherished<br />

for four years. When I wanted to transfer to a larger school, I was told I would not be transferred, and<br />

not to ask again. The excuse given was that I was the youngest elementary principal. The truth was that<br />

I was Black. I looked for a new job. I accepted an excellent upper administration position with Marion<br />

Community Schools and tendered my resignation.<br />

Then I got a phone call on a Sunday evening from Dr. Robert Freeman, who had been hired that weekend<br />

as Superintendent of Muncie Community Schools. I was abrupt with him, telling him I already had a<br />

job. He was patient with me, explaining that he wouldn’t have called me if he hadn’t already spoken with<br />

the Marion Superintendent. I accepted the position he offered as his Administrative Assistant, and he<br />

continued to mentor me, modeling and teaching necessary skills. After three years, I took a leave of absence<br />

to complete my doctorate, and in 1989 I became Superintendent of Muncie Community Schools.<br />

God has blessed me with many mentors, and my path grew clear as I learned from every one of them. My<br />

father, Mr. Ash, Mr. Buley, Mr. Dygert, Mr. Clark, Dr. Freeman, and so many others, Black and White—<br />

without their leadership and guidance, I would not have become the man God intended me to be. I pray<br />

that God has used me in the same way, to help shape the lives of others.<br />

25


On Not Feeling Safe<br />

An Anonymous story by Resa Matlock<br />

Storyteller is 44 years old.<br />

26<br />

It was our destiny.<br />

I lived in Iraq. My husband bounced between Iraq and Indiana. His mother was from Indiana<br />

and his father from Iraq. They met at IU. Our families knew each other. My sister married his<br />

brother. We met and talked, and we, and our families, agreed to our marriage.<br />

God meant for us to be together.<br />

When I moved to the U.S., I spoke very little English. I started to learn at the Muncie Career<br />

Center and was treated well. All over Muncie, even after 9/11 and the wars, I didn’t see any difficulty<br />

with people accepting me. I took CNA classes, became a nurse’s assistant and worked for four years<br />

until our second child was born. The hardest thing was to be away from my family in Iraq with new<br />

babies. I worked to adjust to my new life because I had no choice. This is my life. I can deal with it.<br />

My husband has problems and his problems are my problems.<br />

Racism is not just about black and white. Racism is not just about individuals. Racism is about<br />

families too.<br />

I came to the U.S. having the idea that this is a free country with rules, rights, and obligations.<br />

I still have that in mind, but year after year I find more discrimination. When I was working,<br />

some people would ask why do you wear that, because I wear the hijab in public. I worked with<br />

women from Mexico, Poland, and Sierra Leone, and we sometimes felt like the other nurses<br />

treated us differently.<br />

I tell my children we are different. We will stay different. Different is not a negative thing. People<br />

will know from our names, our color, our accent, our behavior. We are different.<br />

My children are white, and don’t have accents, but they have Arabic names.<br />

When I came here I became a U.S. citizen and believed that if you work hard, you would be okay.<br />

There is unfairness everywhere, but not like this unfairness that my husband has faced at his work.<br />

He doesn’t want to tell because he does not want to lose his job.<br />

You see, my husband is a U.S. citizen. He was born here. But his boss treats him like an outsider.<br />

His boss is more than just rude. His boss is racist. His boss constantly puts him down, calls him<br />

names, cusses at him, and says terrible things about our religion. What makes it worse is that my<br />

husband never gets a break. He’s not allowed to take vacation. He works overtime and is always<br />

called in on “time off”, both of which are unpaid. No one else in the company works as much as<br />

he does.<br />

When I say that racism impacts families this is what I mean. My husband is treated unfairly. Of<br />

course this comes home. Of course this impacts us. We believe that family time is important. And<br />

what little time we have together gets interrupted. Interrupted by these so called emergencies that<br />

I’m certain someone else can solve. Vacation days? No. He can’t use those either because it would<br />

be too chaotic at work without him. If he’s able to get a vacation days it’s never more than two days<br />

and at that, he usually has to work overtime the day before so make up for that time off.<br />

I also worry about what this teaches our children. I want our children to know that how their<br />

father is treated isn’t ok. That they shouldn’t expect that and they should speak up. I’ve tried to<br />

help my husband stand up, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t realize that he has rights as an employee. So<br />

instead he just takes it because he’s lucky to have a job. And our children see this. Do they know<br />

that this isn’t right? Is this what they think will happen to them when they start working? Will they<br />

just accept that this is normal and they will be lucky to have a job? I hope not.<br />

Our children come to me with their concerns or questions about school, the community, or<br />

things they see in the news. They come to me because they believe their father won’t stand up for<br />

them. They think this because he won’t stand up to his boss. So I have to take this on all by myself.<br />

I do my best to learn about whatever it is, to stand up for them when is necessary, and to teach them<br />

to do the same.<br />

I love my husband but I’m worried about him. I’m worried about us. I’m worried about our<br />

family. He is so consumed with work things that I worry about our family. Because I handle most<br />

things with our children, I worry about what will happen if something happens to me. Will he be<br />

able to stand up and protect our kids if I can’t? Will he stand up and protect me if I can’t do so? Will<br />

it always be like this?


You Don’t Know What God Look Like,<br />

So How You Gonna Be Racist?<br />

Legend’s story by Stephanie Winn | Legend is a pseudonym and she is 36 years old.<br />

When I first got here from Liberia, the change in school was like going straight from the<br />

second grade to seventh grade. My accent was real thick so I hated talking in class. I still get<br />

anxiety today to read in front of a big crowd. And you know, it was opposite of what you<br />

would think for me. Because it was the black kids that bullied me. They would call me names<br />

and make fun of me. They will ask the most crazy questions. They used to say, do you guys<br />

wear clothes in Africa? Do you guys have moms and dads? Like we’re not human. We just<br />

fall outta the sky and here we are. But, the white kids, they’d be real nice and interested in me.<br />

They’d ask me where I was from and think it was cool to hear about it.<br />

My dad bought a house in a white neighborhood and we didn’t know it at the time, but the<br />

head of the Ku Klux Klan lived two doors down from us. In the beginning, it was bad because<br />

they thought we was straight up African American. And then one day, we was standing outside<br />

speaking our language cause our step mom, she didn’t know how to speak English, so we was<br />

speaking our language towards her and one of the guys came out. He was like, ”Where you<br />

guys from? We said, “We are from Africa. We’re African.” They was like, “Well you guys are<br />

different from the black Americans.” And we was like, “What’s the difference?”<br />

But, after that it wasn’t bad for us anymore. And that’s how I started to know about racism<br />

towards black Americans.<br />

Back at school, it was Black History Month. They showed one movie about slavery and<br />

that’s how I found out what was goin’ on between black and white people. I didn’t know about<br />

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, anybody before this. I would get upset at the white people<br />

for what they did and what they continue to do to the black people. But then I would get upset<br />

at the black people for not putting a foot down and changing their lives around. I heard people<br />

say, “Well, the white man holds us back.” That might be true, but there’s always a way around.<br />

I started doing my own research about what is going on. You know, I had to wonder, why is<br />

there just one month in a whole year to learn about our own history?<br />

That’s what I learned in those books, and I learned a lot that first year just by the way I<br />

was treated. You see rumor has it, that, as an African, the Americans like us more than they<br />

like black Americans. I think that’s why the black kids at school didn’t like me. White people<br />

always seemed to like me better than them. Well, you know how high school is. Guys won’t<br />

date you ‘cause you’re dark skinned. They’d like the light skinned girls ‘cause that might be<br />

who is in the rap videos and on TV. And even grown people would stand there and say, “Oh, I<br />

don’t date black guys or Asian guys,” or whatever. I could never understand how adults could<br />

say this because what God may plan he didn’t say, oh you gonna be with this white person, he<br />

didn’t say that. And now, as an adult, I’m so thankful I didn’t accept what they said as truth.<br />

Because if I was racist, two of my sweet children wouldn’t even be here. I believe one way God<br />

shows the beauty of races coming together is through biracial people.<br />

Yes, I am part of a beautiful biracial family, African American, Black American, biracial,<br />

and white. And you know, it’s still hurtful and confusing because people assume we’re not<br />

together. At the grocery store, even though we’d be holding hands and talking, the cashier will<br />

be like, scan, scan, scan, “Your total’s $14.88.” Then look at me, “Can I help you?” Like she<br />

don’t know we’re together.<br />

People need to ask God to help them start seeing things different. People who are straight<br />

up racist, they have no respect for God. Because we were made in the image of God and you<br />

don’t know what God look like, so how you gonna be racist?<br />

27


A Battle to Fight<br />

Ella McNeary’s story by Lenore Allen<br />

Ella is 72 years old.<br />

I came to Muncie in 1965 from Dayton, Ohio, after a 12-month internship. That’s<br />

when I got the job at Ball Memorial Hospital. I was the second black dietician that they<br />

ever had. The first one, Mrs. Gaylord, worked there a few months. Her husband was<br />

completing his degree as a veterinarian. Then, they left.<br />

I was at Ball Memorial Hospital for a year and a half as a clinical dietician. Then, I<br />

went to Ball State. I was hired easily at both jobs. To talk about the racism in Muncie is<br />

a touchy subject. I worked at Ball State for 28 years and retired at 51. I’m 72 now.<br />

At Ball State after Betty Tipton left to work for Muncie Public Schools, I was the only<br />

registered dietician on the staff at Ball State dining service. The first department head,<br />

Ms. Ellen Nicholson, was a great head of the department. She was like a mother. She<br />

was a sweet lady. You could go to her with your problems. She kept things confidential.<br />

Information wasn’t written on your evaluation or job description. She was very honest,<br />

trustworthy, and decent with high moral standards. I presume she was very spiritual. I<br />

had a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree, so I had more education than anyone<br />

else in the department including my past and present boss at the time.<br />

After working 24 years, there were two positions that were open in the department. I<br />

was a Manager, an M-4 or the fourth level of management. I was competing for the job<br />

with assistant managers, M-2s or people who were on the second level of management.<br />

The snack bar managers were M-3s, or the third level of management. This position<br />

of Assistant Director of Dining service was the second position of the same name.<br />

We already had one Assistant Director. This position was created by the boss. It was<br />

posted supposedly in all of the national journals, so anyone in the United States could<br />

have applied for this position. You had to have a minimum of a Master’s degree in<br />

management or food service in order to apply.<br />

I had Food Nutrition and Institutional Management. I was the only one who had<br />

that background. I had a Master’s degree in Dietetics and Health Science. I was mighty<br />

knowledgeable for the position. I had worked at Studebaker dining service at Ball<br />

State for over 28 years. I had plenty of experience under my belt, especially with the<br />

maintenance budget. There always seemed to be maintenance issues and I was steady<br />

making requests to have things repaired. A few things would get done, but not the<br />

major requests, which meant that each year that there was money left that went into<br />

a sinking fund at Ball State. Over the years, I saved the University at least $8,400,000<br />

which helped to build new dormitories that they probably didn’t need. Surely that<br />

should have been enough experience.<br />

I applied for the position knowing that my present Department Head probably<br />

would not appreciate it. I felt that she didn’t want to work with me because I was black.<br />

I was right because an M-2 received the position. It was someone that I had previously<br />

supervised. Almost all of the M-2s and M-1s had worked under my supervision at some<br />

point in time. A few of my co-workers egged me on to ask the Director about the<br />

position. “Ella, what are you gonna do about it?”<br />

They knew I was the best person for the position. This was in the summer time. Ed,<br />

my son and I were in Canada. I was just getting over a cold so I wasn’t thinking about<br />

anything, but my illness. It was so unfair knowing that I was the only one who was<br />

qualified for the position. Anyone else would have to take Bachelor’s degree classes as<br />

well as Master’s in order to gain the knowledge and credentials required for the position.<br />

28


I didn’t corner anyone to talk to them about any of this. I went straight to the Muncie Human Rights<br />

Commission. I told them that I was there for an age discrimination lawsuit. I decided to use a law firm from<br />

Indianapolis. I was in my 40s and I noticed there were not people in management in that age range. Only<br />

the young women were hired, but women my age…we were dependable. Most women my age didn’t have<br />

children. I wanted to file against the department head, but the university wouldn’t allow me, so I had to sue<br />

Ball State University. I had no other choice. I believe I was the first black single woman to file a lawsuit against<br />

Ball State.<br />

I went to the EEOC which was a waste of my time and theirs as well. The Ball Family owned most things<br />

in Muncie. I felt like little David going against Goliath. Then I felt like Lot and those friends of his. I got<br />

frightened about it, but it seems like God would open windows for me at times. And I would say, “O God,<br />

you’ve done it again!”<br />

I remember before the depositions things would be placed in my hands. I had to thank God. When I reviewed<br />

them, I had 73 exhibits. My department head only had 9 exhibits which was mostly untrue. Every now and<br />

then I would hear that our department head said that she could not discuss this or that because of the lawsuit. It<br />

made me feel uncomfortable. People were walking on eggshells and the grapevine was very long. Immediately<br />

someone would know what you had said. There were accusations from the department head that I kept my<br />

employees in an uproar all the time. I know this came from my department head because I saw it on paper.<br />

These allegations were not true. As time went on we settled. It was not a big settlement. Not nearly what people<br />

thought I received. You know the black community would make comments like, “Girl, I know you got about<br />

$500,000!” No, I did not.<br />

My husband and I had always been frugal. We didn’t always spend our money. I was a saver. The one thing<br />

that we did was pay off the house. I stayed at Ball State until I was 50. I could retire because I had more than<br />

15 years of service. My son was going to college and he would receive 75 percent off of his tuition if I did so. I<br />

stayed there until 1995 and he graduated in 1998. It was a long journey and very stressful. This began in 1991<br />

and it ended in 1995. I lost $45,000 because I retired at 50 instead of 66 years old. I couldn’t take it anymore.<br />

I didn’t make $45,000 when I left because Ball State did not pay me well. And they treated me worse. I went<br />

to the library and discovered the Board of Trustees minutes. I would look at raises they had given people.<br />

Different people had gotten raises from 8% to 11%. I have had evaluations that I felt were incorrect and I felt<br />

discriminated against.<br />

It was written into one of my evaluations that I did not appear to have read the engineer or architect’s report<br />

for that day. At one point they were going to renovate Studebaker dining service. I still don’t recall that I had<br />

never read their notes, but that was put in the evaluation. This was not in my job description. Using the term,<br />

“it appeared” was very misleading.<br />

But life after retirement has been fulfilling and rewarding. Volunteering has been my motivation and passion.<br />

I have stayed involved in helping others and the community through the NAACP, the YWCA, and Trinity<br />

United Methodist Church where I am involved in the ministry. I try to reflect God in all I do because I know<br />

that I would have never made it in life without God and my faith. I know that I would have never made it in<br />

life without God and my faith.<br />

29


Cutting Up. Getting Along. Working Together<br />

Tom Carey’s story written by J.R. Jamison<br />

Tom is 75 years old.<br />

What you want? You wanna hear some stories?<br />

Well, it was always cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the halls.<br />

“Man, you got the best hands I’ve ever seen,” is what one supervisor would always say.<br />

And I was just cleaning the bathroom. I was like, “What you talking about? They’re<br />

just hands!”<br />

We got real tight. He said, “If you stick with me, you’ll take my job when I leave.”<br />

This other supervisor was prejudiced. He didn’t care for nobody. He was a little guy,<br />

5’6”, and boy he’d give us a hard time. A group leader position came open under him,<br />

and my boss went and told this guy that if he wanted the best man to hire he should hire<br />

me. I told my boss, “Man, I don’t ‘stand that joker and he don’t like me. I can’t work<br />

with that dude.”<br />

He told me just to try it for 90 days, so I did and ended up staying.<br />

At the time, there were no women custodians and very few blacks. I trained the first<br />

women custodians at Ball State, two white and one black. This was in the 70s.<br />

One white woman was named Nellie, the black woman, Julia, and the other white<br />

woman was Donna from Eaton. Donna would tell on everybody. She kissed the<br />

supervisor’s butt. Everybody knew she was a snitch. Just stuff that went on, you know.<br />

So we all were sitting at the table having our staff Christmas dinner, and Julia said:<br />

“Earl, what you gonna do now that we all know Donna is your snitch?”<br />

He turned red and just grinned. Shocked everybody. These types of things went on all<br />

the time. Just cutting up and getting along.<br />

Then they brought a guy in from Yorktown to work under me. He and the supervisor<br />

went to school together, and this guy wouldn’t let me train him. He was one of those<br />

people who thinks nobody could train him. He was rotten, too.<br />

So this other supervisor job in our area eventually came up, and we both put in for it<br />

and they hired him over me. I wrote a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity<br />

Commission and they tried to get me to claim discrimination and told me to go black<br />

against white, but that’s not how it was. He was hired because they were friends. Or<br />

that’s what I thought.<br />

But two weeks later because of the letter, they called and had us come in to talk about<br />

it. They brought out our evaluation papers to show how we stacked up, side-by-side.<br />

Where I had an “A” he had an “A.” Where I had a “B” he had a “B.”<br />

I think they made those papers up.<br />

30


They said why he was hired over me was because he had management experience running a few<br />

restaurants in town. I said, “If that’s the case, I’ve managed a barber shop in town for years on top of<br />

this job and have more overall experience.”<br />

It didn’t matter. So I eventually let it go.<br />

But guess what? One man ended up dying and they gave me his job as a supervisor. Finally, a supervisor.<br />

The first two years, I had to go through some things. But everybody started to accept me.<br />

When I first went into supervision, whites thought I favored them. Blacks thought I favored them. I<br />

just tried to get people to bond as people. Not because we’re black or white, or even green for that<br />

matter. We’ve just got to work together. I mean, we are all working people, we have to work together.<br />

One day, though, my group leader, Barry—me and him was real tight—he told me one of our guys used<br />

the N-word when I wasn’t around. I was shocked.<br />

I was like, “No!”<br />

“Carey!” He said with his hands up and head down.<br />

“Barry?!”<br />

So I called them all in, “Has anyone heard Mark use the N-word? Has anyone heard Mark use the<br />

N-word?”<br />

So finally this girl spoke up, “I have. When no blacks are around, he uses it consistently.”<br />

Man, I gave him a talking. “Let me tell you something. If I ever hear you use that again, it will be your<br />

job.” He started crying! But that’s all it took, and we got it settled and was cool after that.<br />

When I retired, I had more seniority than any supervisor even though I was the youngest.<br />

You know, they were my people. I mean, everybody is completely different. Black, white, green, or<br />

purple. We all have different personalities. But we got to learn how to deal with each other. And that’s<br />

what I was good at.<br />

They’d always say, “Why y’all following behind Carey?”<br />

‘Cause I’ve got their backs.<br />

It was always cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the halls. I’d tell them, “You stick with me. You’ll take<br />

my job when I leave.”<br />

31


A Person Without a Story, A Person Without a Name<br />

Christine Satory’s Story by Michael Brockley<br />

Christine is 58 years old.<br />

Call me NoName Changeling. I was born in the year the Lumbee stood down the<br />

Klan in the Battle of Maxton Field. The government placed mixed-blood babies with<br />

white adoptive families. The children with blond or red hair. With blue or green eyes.<br />

America’s forgotten children. My hair was as red as wild strawberries. My eyes, the<br />

color of luna moths. Even then, my skin was light. In Canada, I carry papers that say I<br />

am Métis but, in my country, I have no tribe.<br />

In my country, I have no tribe. I am a split-feather. One of the lost birds set apart<br />

from the legends of Nanabozho. I never sat in a circle while the grandfathers spoke of<br />

how Nanabozho dwells among the seraphim of the Northern lights on a great island of<br />

floating ice. I am neither Potawatomi nor Ojibwa. Neither Menominee nor Kickapoo.<br />

I am the daughter who dreams of feeding her grand-daughters pemmican.<br />

I am the daughter who feeds her grand-daughters pemmican made from a recipe<br />

printed in a book. I read Roget’s Thesaurus in search of synonyms for the language<br />

I cannot speak. I rescue abandoned words and shield them from harm’s way. Quid<br />

nunc. Gobsmacked. Hear me when I tell you, the songs my ancestors bequeathed me<br />

remain unsung. I do not resemble the silver screen image of Sacagawea, but I joined<br />

the caravan to Pine Ridge to restore what was stolen. Each day I thank the spirit leader<br />

whose gift to me was her trust. And the elders who told me to follow my spirit.<br />

The elders told me to follow my spirit. My first husband sought his heritage among<br />

his Choctaw roots. My husband, like a Hollywood Indian from Thunderheart or<br />

Dances with Wolves. Black hair, brown eyes and copper skin. Stoic until his final<br />

devastation. Our sons danced in midwestern powwows. Grew their blond hair long to<br />

hold their mysteries and prayers. Were taunted in the high school halls. Others at the<br />

powwows complained of wannabes to the BIA. They stripped the feathers from my<br />

sons’ regalia. One son was a drummer. The other a firekeeper. I taught my sons to live<br />

with honor, and they honor their mother. My sons walked away. I cut my hair. Still I<br />

walk in a spirit way.<br />

I walk in a spirit way. I host a feast for dancers who travel with wolves. I serve<br />

squash, maize and beans. The Three Sisters. We sing for The Child of Many Colors.<br />

Practice trills. I wear long skirts. One summer, fifty people from a Bible camp stood<br />

in my lawn to ask if I had been saved. I ordered a statue of Pan for the front yard.<br />

They never returned. I teach college freshmen to celebrate mistakes in their paintings.<br />

To see beyond the limits of oil and water. For my fiftieth birthday, I had a phoenix<br />

tattooed the length of my arm. I dyed my short hair teal. To remind myself how to live<br />

as a mixed-blood in Indiana. How to live in this age without my ancestor songs. I live<br />

without a name and without a people. I walk alone in a spirit way.<br />

32


The human right to be seen, the responsibility to see<br />

Yvonne Thompson’s story by Kelsey Timmerman<br />

Yvonne is 58 years old.<br />

I had a two-parent home. I got to be a cheerleader. I got to be in the band. I got to do<br />

all those unusual things.<br />

A lot of times I was the only black person in the organizations in school. I thought<br />

they treated me the same, but when I look back, they didn’t. There are things I can see<br />

now that I see as racist. I remember being called mammy.<br />

If I knew what I know now as the Executive Director of the Muncie Human Rights<br />

Commission, I would have been scared. I never thought racism was in everything. Now<br />

I see it. I see racism in particular police behavior. I see it in the school system. I see it in<br />

housing. Oh God, housing is bad. It’s just horrible.<br />

I was shielded by my family and church.<br />

When I wasn’t at home or at school, I was at church. Church influenced my belief<br />

in God, but also, too, my belief in people. I think for a time I thought everybody was<br />

good. I was naive. This job has been a rude awakening for me.<br />

The things I have seen people say and do…Why in the world would you say or do<br />

that to another human being?<br />

When kids are young they don’t really understand what racism is.<br />

I had a friend who was my best friend in the world. She’s white. She showed me a lot<br />

about not being racist. I could go and stay overnight with her and her family. I would<br />

go to her church; she would go to mine. She showed me that things can be different.<br />

Not, “You can only play with your black friends or white friends.” She has had a big<br />

influence on my life.<br />

Both my parents were very hard working people. My mom worked outside of the<br />

home. My dad owned a filling station here in Muncie. He was an African-American<br />

business owner. I had a good upbringing. I look back at it now, grateful and thankful.<br />

Two of my uncles owned businesses. One uncle on my mom’s side owned a filling<br />

station. All the businesses were on Broadway. I look at them today and see my family<br />

in those places.<br />

They each had the chance to be people of substance.<br />

Mom wanted me to learn how to arrange flowers. Honestly, I thought my goal in life<br />

was to work at the Muncie Mall. That was it for me. I was like, “Yeah, that’s big time!”<br />

My family thought I would stay in Muncie, thought I’d work at GM. My brother and<br />

sister tried their darndest to get me to work there. I applied and didn’t get the job. My<br />

mind was never towards working in a factory.<br />

My parents were very upset with me in wanting to leave. They came up here to<br />

Muncie to find work from the South. They knew racism. They left their parents to<br />

come up here, but they couldn’t imagine me leaving them.<br />

I wanted to see something different. I always thought my calling was to go to Oral<br />

Roberts University. I went out to Oklahoma on a campus visit by myself. I was dating<br />

the man who would become my husband, and when I got back I prayed, “Lord, if you<br />

want me to go to ORU, you’re gonna have to work on Aaron’s heart.”<br />

When I think about my marriage to Aaron, I think that is what I was really looking<br />

for—someone to get me out of Muncie. We had a daughter in Muncie, two sons born in<br />

Michigan City, we lived in Paducah, Kentucky, and eventually we moved out to Ada,<br />

Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Oral Roberts University.<br />

God must have misheard me because at first it wasn’t me who attended class at Oral<br />

Roberts, it was Aaron. I held down jobs, took care of the kids. But fifteen years later, I<br />

did graduate from Oral Roberts.<br />

33


34<br />

My education in social work opened my eyes to the pain of people, what people go through,<br />

the expectations people have for their lives. The desire to always want to be something.<br />

Everything was more appealing than Muncie. I think it was just nice to be somewhere<br />

different. To learn different things, to see different people.<br />

So it might surprise you that where I live right now is the house I grew up in.<br />

When I came back to Muncie after getting my degree and a divorce, I was here to take care<br />

of my mom. When my mom passed, I knew I needed to make the decision about Muncie. My<br />

kids were grown; I didn’t have any reason to stay in Oklahoma.<br />

It’s crazy. I came back to Muncie and was like, “This really is a nice place.” I started to go<br />

into parts of Muncie I had never been—parts of Ball State, Minnetrista.<br />

As an adult, I had never been part of a community other than a church community, until<br />

moving back to Muncie. Muncie Black Expo was my first experience volunteering. I also got<br />

involved in Whitely Community Council, Motivate Our Minds, Habitat for Humanity. Dr.<br />

Maria Hawkins, Mary Dollison, Miss Foster, those women taught me to give back, to invest<br />

in this place.<br />

I grew up in Whitely, Muncie Central, and the church. That was my sphere of living; that<br />

was it.<br />

Everyone in Muncie has an opinion about Whitely even if they’ve never been there. That’s<br />

shocking to me. I don’t want to live anywhere else, and I could. I love Whitely. Everybody<br />

waves to each other. If you want a tour, I’ll give you a tour.<br />

I used to wonder when I was growing up why people would stop me and tell me their<br />

stories. And I would think, “Why in the world would they tell me everything. I don’t know<br />

them, never met them.”<br />

I feel what people are going through. Now, that’s my job.<br />

At the Human Rights Commission, we protect people. Protect their emotions, jobs,<br />

livelihoods, and their being. When a person feels discriminated against, it hits them hard.<br />

“They just said I’m not worthy; I’m not a person.” It’s something to see a person shaken to<br />

the core. We’ve seen it numerous times. We help that person gain worth and value again. It<br />

means a lot to see that.<br />

Usually someone comes in and explains how they have been treated differently. We then<br />

determine if it against the law and if it is a civil rights violation.<br />

I’ve wept and cried about the injustices I’ve seen. It’s hard to believe that there are systems<br />

in place thathold people back. People that gave their all, tried their best, people who wanted<br />

to pull up their boot straps, but something pushed them back.<br />

I think I’ve grown up in that respect. Growing up isn’t easy, but I had to. We all have to.<br />

Kids don’t even know what racism is. You know something is pure and beautiful when there<br />

are no labels for it. I’ve told students that if I could shield them from racism I would. But you<br />

gotta deal with it.<br />

Right before I took this job, I read about hate crimes and thought, “Why would people do<br />

that to other people?” I just never grasped that magnitude of hate and inequality. I wish I<br />

could work myself out of this, but it ain’t gonna happen.<br />

As a naive little girl growing up in Muncie, I thought everybody was good. As a woman, I<br />

don’t see it like that. Everyone isn’t good, but I believe that there is good in everyone.<br />

People just want someone to notice them, to see them. I try to be that person.<br />

Lord let me see people. See them in their pain and joy, in their hurt and in their shine.


“We’re all messed up,<br />

but we all came out of somewhere, you know?”<br />

D.P.’s story by Deborah Mix | D.P. is a pseudonym and he is 23 years old.<br />

The first thing you should know is that my parents aren’t racists. They tried to talk to<br />

me about it. But I listened to my granddad—his dad was the head of a white supremacist<br />

organization in Kentucky. He told me that black skin was the mark of Cain, so it was a sign<br />

of evil. When he died I was in fourth grade, and I thought I could honor him by keeping<br />

his values.<br />

My school was all white, and my best friend was also racist, so it was easy to keep to the<br />

thinking that African Americans were different. It was rooted in me. It didn’t mean anything<br />

to me to use slurs, like the N-word. Now I know I was depressed and confused. I was drinking<br />

and just talking big.<br />

Then in November 2014, I was in an accident driving to work. My truck slid into a ditch and<br />

when I got out to see what happened, I got hit by a passing car, which hit another car before<br />

sliding off the road. After being hit, I was somehow able to help that driver and the other<br />

person he hit before the ambulance came. But it turned out my pelvis was fractured. At the<br />

hospital, I had a black nurse. She was so loving and compassionate, and she didn’t even know<br />

me! But once they gave me painkillers, I started saying all kinds of things, calling her names,<br />

the N-word. I don’t even know her name, but I wish I could apologize to her now.<br />

I was in the hospital for five weeks, in and out of consciousness, and when I got home, I was<br />

completely dependent on other people. I hated it. I reached for a beer, like I always did when I<br />

was unhappy, but for some reason it just tasted awful, just literally sickening.<br />

Then I remembered a family friend who visited when I was in the hospital. He prayed over<br />

me, and he invited me and my wife to visit his church. We took him up on the offer, and the<br />

first time we walked in I couldn’t believe how diverse it was. It was insane! I mean, I’ve been<br />

thinking difference is wrong, and here are all these people talking to me and welcoming us.<br />

Everything in the past I’ve done and said—I’m thinking about it and feeling guilty, but I’m still<br />

kind of numb.<br />

I get involved in the choir—music has always been really important to me—and I get asked<br />

to lead a song. So I lead the congregation in “Something About the Name Jesus,” by Kirk<br />

Franklin. I’m singing and looking out at the congregation, and it’s just like a stained-glass<br />

picture. All these people have come together to praise the same God. Something in my spirit<br />

tells me that this is what is should be like. We’re supposed to be together, not segregated.<br />

After the service, I’m eating lunch and I hear this man say, “When I heard them say your<br />

name, I wasn’t picturing a white kid. But you brought it. You sang that song!” I realize the<br />

person talking to me is the associate pastor, a black man. Before I know it, we’re friends, like<br />

real friends. I’m telling him about my marriage, about my life. He makes time for me, calling<br />

me his brother, and he’s like my family now. We talk every day.<br />

When I think about how I used to think, what I used to say then. . . I couldn’t understand<br />

how my words affected others. I was hurting, angry. I always tell people you have to respond<br />

with love because you don’t know what that angry person is going through, what they’ve dealt<br />

with that makes them act that way.<br />

I think God is asking me to tell my story. Where I was isn’t all that uncommon here in<br />

Muncie. I just want to see people love people. I keep coming back to what the Bible says,<br />

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I know now that’s<br />

how I want to live, and I’m trying to be that man every day of my life.<br />

It’s not easy to change. It hurts. Everything I thought is being obliterated. I spent time not<br />

knowing what to believe. But God is showing me love through other people. We’re all messed<br />

up, but we all came out of somewhere, you know? I want to help other people see they can<br />

change. I’ll tell my story to anyone who will listen.<br />

35


Uprooting Racism<br />

Jason Donati’s story by Josh Holowell.<br />

Jason is 36 years old.<br />

“What did you just say?”<br />

Anger overtook me as I stood with the young men I was working with by the<br />

dirt pile.<br />

It was one of my many opportunities to interact with the youth of our<br />

community, educating them on our environment. One of them had just used a<br />

nasty racial slur to describe the black students working in another part of the<br />

field. I challenged him. He stood firm by his comment and began to explain how<br />

he saw the world. How everyone in his neighborhood knew what “black people”<br />

were really like.<br />

The others joined in. I let them continue to spit out words of hate, words which<br />

fell heavy upon my heart, each like a dagger against my family. And here I had a<br />

choice to make. I was brought here to teach about the environment, but today’s<br />

lesson was going to be about racism. Who else was going to have this conversation<br />

with these kids if not me?<br />

I began to tell the boys about my biracial family. That racial slur was not at some<br />

unknown “them,” but against the love of my life and our wonderful children. I<br />

told the boys of the pain this causes. I told them that this is not just the way the<br />

world is, but that racism is evil. I also told them that this hate aimed at others<br />

would eat away at them too, slowly killing their compassion. There was a better<br />

way forward. But to do so, they would have to go outside their comfort zone.<br />

They would need to put themselves into places that challenged their privilege as<br />

white males in America.<br />

As I felt rage against their racism, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life’s<br />

journey. I couldn’t help but see that these boys were a product of their neighborhood<br />

as much as I was, growing up a privileged white male in Muncie, Indiana. While I<br />

was always taught better, I held biases myself and tolerated the blatant racism that<br />

surrounded me. I may not have always joined in, but I stood alongside, allowing<br />

such hate to infect the ground I walked upon. And just as weeds overtake a<br />

beautiful garden that is neglected, the weeds of racism had crept in and overtaken<br />

my community and even myself.<br />

This all changed for me when I had the chance to leave Muncie and serve inner<br />

city communities throughout the East Coast in AmeriCorps. I lived and worked<br />

in some of the roughest communities in our nation. There I saw the brokenness<br />

and the beauty of people. There I developed relationships with those who were<br />

very different from me.<br />

And there I saw the realities of systemic racism in our nation. Where<br />

communities of color were talked about and not talked with. Where decisions<br />

were made for these communities and not with them. Where young men had to<br />

hustle their way into money because the jobs I could provide for them wouldn’t<br />

pay enough. Where I saw young men turn to violence against one another because<br />

no one cared enough to care about them.<br />

And where everything I had learned and absorbed was challenged.<br />

It changed me. The people I worked alongside, and for, changed me.<br />

36


And so, when I returned to Muncie, this time with my biracial family, I was committed to making a difference.<br />

Committed to changing the narrative.<br />

Committed to stepping into uncomfortable spaces and places.<br />

Committed to not allowing the status quo of racism to continue unchallenged.<br />

Committed to helping others abandon their racism and to pursue a better way.<br />

To this way I have given my life. The way of love and reconciliation. To step up in the moment so that the<br />

boys spitting hate could learn to speak peace instead. So that this community would not be overtaken by the<br />

weeds of racism. That all of us would embrace our role as stewards and gardeners pulling up racism at its roots.<br />

It may be painful at first, but it will result in a beautiful garden full of flowers of every color living in harmony<br />

and peace together.<br />

Step out of your comfort zone and join me.<br />

37


Sunrise, Sundown<br />

Daniel Stallings’ story by Jackson Eflin<br />

Daniel is 49 years old.<br />

Heavy fog was just lifting when we started to make out the silhouettes of officers<br />

with rifles looking down on us from every overpass. It was an early, cold February<br />

morning in 1987. We were four tired college students – definitely not used to that early<br />

hour – making a sleep-deprived drive north from Atlanta to Forsythe County, Georgia.<br />

Despite everything we’d watched about what was happening there on the news, the<br />

nation’s eyes glued to a nowhere town, we were not prepared for what we were about to<br />

see that morning.<br />

As the miles passed, we noticed more vehicles heading in the same direction; the<br />

south-bound lanes on the interstate were still very quiet. We were thinking out loud,<br />

trying to figure out which cars were going to join us as we got closer to the gathering<br />

site for the march. It was exciting to know that there were other like-minded folks, and<br />

we would nod as we made eye contact with the other drivers and passengers. With every<br />

mile I gained confidence that there were others who would be marching in solidarity<br />

in the little town of Cumming, Georgia. Forsythe County, I learned, was known as a<br />

“White” county. I knew little of these things, having grown up in California, but my<br />

friends, who grew up in the South, were not so naïve. They knew that Cumming was a<br />

Sundown Town – a place where the black workers, for fear of their lives, would not want<br />

to be caught after sundown.<br />

It was just sunrise when we exited the highway and followed the traffic, slowly crawling<br />

towards a large gravel parking area, as directed by the army of law enforcement present.<br />

With all of the activity and anticipation, it was almost like arriving at an amusement<br />

park. We stretched out of the car and felt the chill. We chattered excitedly about all of the<br />

people who were there to support the same cause; we were there to show our support<br />

for the events that had occurred at the first MLK, Jr Day march, which had taken place a<br />

few weeks earlier, and which was then counter-protested by local members of the KKK<br />

and citizen militia groups. This was the third weekend of back and forth protest and<br />

counter-protests, and we were excited by the turnout. As we reached into our trunk to<br />

grab our coats for the march, the passengers in the car next to us also reached into their<br />

trunk to pull out their gear for the march – white robes!<br />

We suddenly hushed our voices. Quick nods at each other and anxious glances at<br />

them. I watched with disbelief as more and more white robes appeared, fluttering in the<br />

cold dawn light.<br />

Close to a thousand people had appeared that morning – as we approached the staging<br />

area, the armed officers started to sort the protestors, often using our apparel to funnel<br />

us into different chutes, like cattle. The police, the Georgie Bureau of Investigation, the<br />

Georgia State Patrol and other lawmen had come in force, and they stood shoulder to<br />

shoulder along the march route. MLK supporters to the left, and counter-protestors<br />

(white robes joined by camouflage jackets and pants) to the right. On the left, we started<br />

the march toward the town center; we joined in the chorus of traditional civil rights<br />

march songs, feeling the excitement of solidarity. On the right, the counter-protestors<br />

were gaining in size and strength, as well.<br />

I can’t say if it was intentional, or if someone had made a split-second decision,<br />

someone who didn’t know the road, didn’t think of the consequences. But about half<br />

a mile down the road, an embankment rose to the right of the road, and the haters<br />

had the higher ground. Now, I’ve never been in war, but I know that the high ground<br />

is the stronger position. I looked up and all I could see were white robes, camo, and<br />

confederate flags. We felt increasingly vulnerable as the crowd grew on the hill, and<br />

we became the targets of their hate-filled shouts and racial epithets (regardless of our<br />

skin color).<br />

38


We kept our heads high and raised our voices up toward the embankment with choruses of civil rights songs<br />

to the sporadic drumbeats of rocks clattering down around us. When I’d seen the robes, I’d braced for violence.<br />

That was part of the story, this idea of people marching for peace and being attacked. Of course, I had this naïve<br />

optimism that it was simply a part of our past history, and that it could not still happen today. But there I was,<br />

looking up, thinking “Hate still lives here today.” There I was, looking up at not just men, not just men and their<br />

wives, but at their children. And the children shouted things no child should ever shout or even know. These<br />

young children were not born with this hate.<br />

Then, I understood. This is how hate survives. This is how hatred is learned and taught. This was part of their<br />

learning experience, their indoctrination.<br />

From where I marched, I didn’t see everything that happened that morning. I didn’t see Jesse Jackson, or<br />

Coretta Scott King, or Hosea Williams or many other Civil Rights leaders. I also didn’t see David Duke, once<br />

Grand Wizard of the KKK. But they were all there that morning. It was even covered by a new talk show host<br />

that we watched when we got home – Oprah Winfrey!<br />

Eventually, the protests died down. MLK Day became a national holiday. But 30 years later, as I travel back to<br />

Atlanta and reflect on this landmark event, it seems we may never stop working to root out racism and hatred.<br />

For me, it was a single day, but I gained a lasting impression of how, for others, the sense of vulnerability and<br />

fear of those on the high ground is daily life.<br />

39


Enemies Out of Allies<br />

An Anonymous Story by Ari Hurwitz<br />

40<br />

I would say some things are better in the country. There has been some improvement, but it<br />

seems like everything wants to take a step backwards now. When I was in my 20s, I had got a<br />

job at US Steel, working basically as a laborer, but I was going to school for electrical, to be an<br />

electrician, you know. US Steel is as big as the city of Muncie. So I’m all the way on the other<br />

side of the mill one day and this electrical foreman walked up on me as I was sweeping out a<br />

tunnel. He was white. We got talking about electricity and he said, “How the hell you know<br />

that stuff and you sweepin’ the damn tunnel?” He got my name and badge number.<br />

It was a couple or so months later, my foreman tells me this electrical foreman wants to see<br />

me and I was like, “WHAT?” So I went over there and he said, “I’m gonna start you out as a<br />

janitor over here, but there’s postings that come up and when one come up, you sign it.” At<br />

the time, there was only one other black electrician who I knew of that worked at US Steel,<br />

and that’s a big plant.<br />

So I was the janitor, time goes on and a posting comes up and I signed the damn thing, along<br />

with other people. They didn’t know I was going to school, see, it’s an all-white department.<br />

They all laughed, “Look at this dumb-ass janitor signing.” Nobody could pass the test for the<br />

job though. Well, I passed the test. It was a major uproar, “Oh no, this can’t be!” I was still in<br />

my 20s. These people, they in their 40s-50s. . .and I’m black. They said, “You gotta retest.”<br />

When they set up this retest they set up a motor controller and you got to this one part<br />

where this DC motor would accelerate, and all of a sudden you hear a explosion and the<br />

motor would try to reverse itself. Nobody had seen nothing like that before. So I sit down<br />

and I’m basically going through wire per wire. It was like a compound motor and they had<br />

reversed it by accident, even they had no idea, total freak of nature. I caught it and fixed it and<br />

I started it up. Everybody said, “What the hell, this black guy, the damn janitor?”<br />

So they sent me up to the Headquarters. That first electrical foreman apologized to me. He<br />

said, “These guys are so upset, they even got the union in, they making me send you up to be<br />

re-tested again.” At Headquarters, the guy couldn’t find nothing wrong. It was racism that<br />

motivated that, any other guy they would have said, “Fine, fine.”<br />

But I got the job. I guess by me bein’ young and me bein’ black, they did not like that and<br />

every day was like a test. I did learn. We had what we called electricians’ helpers and they all<br />

older than me. I said to myself, “Fuck, I ain’t telling them what to do, them guys white and in<br />

they 40s and 50s.”<br />

So they tolerated me, a couple guys accepted it. There was always the bunch to stay away<br />

from, you know, don’t hang around over there ‘cause they’ll do something to ya. The biggest<br />

plus that I had there—it was by luck—I enjoyed playing chess. Gary, Indiana had a chess club<br />

at that time. I went down to play chess, all white guys. One guy there, he also worked at US<br />

Steel and he also was in the electrical part of it and he knew me. We kinda made friends and he<br />

had balls, didn’t nobody mess with him. So when we kinda buddied up, they kinda like, ”Well,<br />

that’s so and so friend, don’t mess with him.” He kinda had my back, was my bodyguard.<br />

So lucky for me I played chess. He knew the places that I needed to be and where not to be.<br />

In fact, a lot of times I would let him lead the way even though I was the electrician and he<br />

was the helper. He was older. I say, “Who cares, fuck, people think he the electrician and I’m<br />

following him.”<br />

So everything, it worked good like that and I didn’t mind it. He would lead the way because<br />

he knew the attitude of some of those other folks. He’d play the role. You have some good<br />

relationships like that and nowadays, yeah, you still do.<br />

The police though, this is the main problem. The police are killing the good for blacks and<br />

whites, makin’ all that counterproductive. Earlier in my life, I had this experience with the<br />

police, too, back then. Actually, it was a white guy who wanted to kill me and a white guy<br />

who saved my ass. I had a girlfriend and we were driving down the highway, heading toward<br />

Michigan City and, all of a sudden, it seemed like my car went airborne. A guy had hit us from<br />

the back, white guy.


He was an older man, or seemed so at that time to me. He had a truck. He didn’t have his head lights on and<br />

he was so drunk he couldn’t even stand up. Man totaled my car, and the police, three squad cars, they came.<br />

First, the guy that caused the accident, they carried him home. They got him home quick. Then they began to<br />

search my car. I’m standing there and they was going all through my car and whatever and my girlfriend, she<br />

hadn’t got out the car. But they were forcing her out and she started screaming. This one police in particular<br />

gets my girlfriend and he just slamming her all everywhere. I’m like, “What the hell’s going on, man, what you<br />

all doing?”<br />

And then I took a step.<br />

I told you I worked at US Steel and there was a fella that used to work at US Steel and he had quit. So now,<br />

as I begin to take a step toward the police, something grabbed me and it was like a vice, another policeman. This<br />

guy says, “That guy’ll kill you!” And I’m like, “Wha . . .?”<br />

He whispered to me that he used to work with me at US Steel. It turned out to be the guy who had quit. He<br />

restrained me. This other guy was wanting to kill me; he roughed up my girlfriend. But this other cop, from US<br />

Steel, was telling me that’s enough for that guy to shoot you, so he was holding me back. Nowadays, with what<br />

goes on, I believe it too. You know what I been seeing, he’d a shot me dead.<br />

They took me and her to jail, but they didn’t put us in the same car. This guy, the dangerous one, he puts the<br />

handcuffs on me and he puts them on so tight, it just cuts off my circulation. Police station is way up in the<br />

woods and I just said, “Oh fuck, I’m dead.”<br />

For me, that was it. They drove us to the police station. Both cars got there around the same time and I heard<br />

my girlfriend screaming. To this day this hurts me too. They decided she needed to be strip searched, you know<br />

how they finger you, cavity searched I guess they call it. That just broke her heart.<br />

Luckily, I had enough money to bail us out and then we had to go to court. I hired a lawyer and he knew<br />

folks in high places and all this kind of shit. And my girlfriend worked in Crown Point at the Justice Center,<br />

as a secretary. Her bosses was all judges and lawyers and shit, so they told the police to leave us the fuck alone.<br />

That’s how she got out. She had to write some apology letter for hollering and screaming and raising hell. Later<br />

on, our friends told us the cops knew they was wrong but what they was trying to do was try to find probable<br />

cause for what they had done. And the man who caused the accident, never heard or seen him since. The guy<br />

that saved me, he was a white guy and he definitely saved me, so I’m not a complete extremist because I know<br />

he saved me. I seen the good and bad in both races, but this bad stuff really pisses me off cause it ain’t necessary.<br />

Nowadays, I’m witnessin’ all these murders on TV. I’m hearing about all these police that shootin’ people<br />

down that’s unarmed basically for no reason and they mostly black. The cops actually tried to murder my son<br />

over in Anderson, 2-3 years ago. My son, he wasn’t a perfect American citizen. He had these tendencies to get<br />

hisself in trouble, but he’s non-violent. He’s never been in a fight in his life; violence is not in his nature, as a<br />

rule. Well, he had warrants out for his arrest; he got his ass in trouble for check fraud. I don’t know if he went<br />

to make a turn or didn’t put his signals on or if he just looked suspicious. It was at night and him and his wife<br />

was in the car. Whatever it was, police stopped him. According to him, everything was going along pretty good<br />

until this one policeman showed up. And then all of a sudden everything changed. They demanded his wife get<br />

out the car. She was having an asthma attack and he was trying to comfort her, but they snatched her out the<br />

car. They told my son to get out the car but he couldn’t, he had his seatbelt on. One officer started spraying<br />

him in the face with that mace while he was still in the car and the other one, the one that caused all the trouble,<br />

tased him. I guess it all happened real fast and before he could get the seatbelt off, one of them started gassin’<br />

him and the other one, when he was openin’ the door, put the taser on him. So they had him in a situation<br />

where he couldn’t breathe cause he was gassin’ to death and they electrocutin’ him all at the same time and they<br />

wonderin’ why he ain’t responding, see. He had passed out and his wife said they was still taserin’ him, even<br />

though he had already fainted. She started screamin’, “what are y’all tryin’ to do, kill my husband?” People<br />

started comin’ out they houses and stuff, so they carryin’ him to the hospital. He said when he came to, they<br />

had him strapped. He heard the nurse saying something like, “you tasered him 5 times?” So they tried to kill<br />

my own son. As you can imagine, with my experience, plus all this stuff goin’ on now, that really pissed me<br />

off. I don’t understand why police are not obligated to police other policeman. If I got a partner riding with me<br />

and I see he’s got craziness in him, I should have the right to say, “hey, I got a buddy and I think he needs to be<br />

evaluated or whatever.”<br />

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42<br />

I had an experience with the police here like five years ago that made me mad enough that<br />

I wanted to do something to them but I couldn’t. My son had a warrant out for his arrest<br />

and one morning I was getting ready to go to work; this is like seven in the morning. They<br />

hittin’ the door like, ‘BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.’ I’m like, ‘what the fuck?’ Then you know,<br />

“POLICE, POLICE, OPEN UP!” Like fuck, I’m getting ready to go to work. I opened<br />

the door and they shoved me aside, knocked me down. This one guy says, “SHUT UP, SIT<br />

DOWN, DON’T MOVE!” And I’m like, “what the fuck’s going on? You’re in my house, I<br />

let you in.” He just tell me again, “SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, DON’T MOVE!” They runnin’<br />

all through in the bedroom, under the couch and I’m like, ‘what the fuck’s going on?’ “Don’t<br />

you say nothing!” they say. Then he had this picture and he said, “this ain’t you, is it?” I said,<br />

“no, this ain’t me.” I swear it seemed like that could a been handled better. He dared me to<br />

move in my own fuckin house. They should a treated me, they should treat people accordin’<br />

to the situation. For instance, if my son was a mass murderer or some kinda well known<br />

terrorist, then I could see why they tough. All he did was wrote a damn check, they call it<br />

fraud, not violent at all, so why all this drama and force and waking up all the damn people in<br />

the apartment and commandin’ me. For what? To me, that was just too much for too little. If<br />

I’d had a weapon, they mighta killed me. That kinda stuff just angers me to death and for this<br />

country it’s a big mistake cause what they doin’ is makin’ enemies out of allies.


A Cultural Racial Identity Struggle<br />

Karen Dowling’s story by Annemarie Voss<br />

Karen is 41 years old.<br />

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Ashok Inamdar, who had immigrated from<br />

India as a thirty-year-old man to pursue an engineering degree, and Kathleen, who was<br />

of Czechoslovakian descent. My parents had met in a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio,<br />

where my father was working in a blood lab, while attending engineering school, and<br />

my mother as a registered nurse. Getting married in 1974 was complicated because my<br />

mother was Roman Catholic and my father was a Hindu. The Roman Catholic Church<br />

in which she had grown up refused to marry them until they had proof from India that<br />

my father had no other wives. Therefore, they first got married in front of Justice of<br />

Peace and later in the Catholic Church.<br />

Neither of my parents impressed their cultural identity upon me or my brother. In<br />

his great desire to become a true American and to pursue the American Dream, my<br />

father did not want to teach me his language or his culture or tell many stories about his<br />

upbringing or his Indian family. Except for having a few Indian friends and liking Indian<br />

foods, he suppressed his Indian identity. When we got together with Indian friends and<br />

a few family members, I was excluded because I could not understand that language.<br />

My mother also did not stress her national heritage much, other than special foods for<br />

holidays and special occasions and the Roman Catholic religion.<br />

My cultural identity crisis began already when I was yet a small child. People would<br />

stare at me with my dark hair, dark skin, and dark eyes, wondering how I could possibly<br />

be my blue-eyed, light-skinned mother’s child, noting that my six-year-younger brother<br />

had inherited her features. Some would even ask me whether I belonged to my mom.<br />

The issue of my cultural identity continued to be problematical during my school<br />

time. My father’s job as chemical engineer, required us to move frequently, each move<br />

necessitating a new integration into a school, where others attempted to classify me. In<br />

one place with a large Hispanic and African-American population, I was more accepted<br />

but assumed to be either of Hispanic origin or half black. When others would discover<br />

that my outer appearance features were from my Indian background, they would<br />

classify me as a model minority, assuming I was of superior intelligence and the child of<br />

a medical doctor. To be a faux Indian or a faux Czech was not satisfactory.<br />

My sense of unease with my identity continued into my years as a college student,<br />

studying Spanish and Japanese. One evening in 1996, when my father drove me back<br />

to my apartment we talked about my dreams to get a Masters and a Ph.D., a love for<br />

education that I shared with him. I had always admired his love for learning that had led<br />

him to leave his family in hope of better opportunities in the United States. We talked<br />

about my desire to go to Spain to get an authentic language experience. That evening we<br />

had a very special moment, I call it “God’s timing,” in which he came to understand my<br />

yearning to come to terms with who I was. We made plans to travel to India to visit his<br />

family, a trip he had only taken once since he had left.<br />

This promise and my hopes were dashed when I learned two days later that my father<br />

had suddenly died of a heart attack. That might have been the end of my journey of selfdiscovery<br />

if it had not been for three fortuitous events that converged in 2013.<br />

The first was a contact from a cousin in India, the son of my father’s only sister, who<br />

contacted me on Facebook and welcomed me to the family and invited me to visit. The<br />

second was my new friendship with an Indian mother of a little boy. I felt a certain<br />

kinship with her, and she invited me to be her companion on a trip to India for her<br />

sister’s wedding. The final opportunity was through my job as a director of education<br />

at Indiana Wesleyan. The University had a relationship with two Indian schools in<br />

Pune, both—though unofficially—Christian. The schools had requested training for the<br />

teachers and administrators. My all-American husband immediately understood that<br />

this was an opportunity I could not refuse.<br />

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44<br />

This trip to India was going to confirm my racial and cultural identity for me.<br />

Everywhere I went I was not seen as an outsider. I was family at my friend’s sister’s wedding<br />

in Punjab before I even met my own family. The highlight of my stay was with my father’s<br />

family in his home in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, home also to Gandhi. One male cousin and one<br />

female cousin became my interpreters and my guides to my Indian family, their way of life and<br />

especially to recreating a memory of my father as a child and young man, from his birth as a<br />

conjoined twin, whose sibling died shortly after birth, to his being considered the wisest and<br />

most handsome of all of his childhood friends.<br />

I met my father’s brother who had been offered the opportunity to go to the United<br />

States first, but who recognized the superior intelligence of my father and insisted that<br />

my father go in his stead because he would have wasted his life if he had stayed in India<br />

working in insurance.<br />

I learned that my father’s only sister, now deceased, was, like me, a teacher and lover of<br />

world languages who taught English and Hindi in a Gujarati school.<br />

I learned that my great-aunt gave my father a nickname for his red cheeks, the same trait I<br />

am known for having.<br />

When I was offered to try a new Indian dish, I found out I asked for his favorite dish. I<br />

smelled the fragrant Indian roses my father had tried to tell me about. I saw photo albums with<br />

a picture of my father on his last day in India at the wedding of his brother. I saw faces and<br />

heard voices that reminded me of my father.<br />

I was a sister, a daughter, and an aunt, not a first or second cousin.<br />

Since my return from India, I know who I am and to whom I belong. I am no longer restless<br />

in search of my cultural identity. My mother who had known of my struggle is pleased for me<br />

as well. My husband who has been very supportive of my journey is also very happy with my<br />

new sense of myself.<br />

It does not matter that I do not speak any of the Indian languages and that I am not an expert<br />

Indian cook. I am in touch with my family in India and have joined S.A.M.A., The South Asia<br />

Muncie Association, where I have found another home I belong to. I have embraced that I<br />

have different traits from my mother, my brother or my own children. I have come to know<br />

my cultural identity and that it is from within, originating in heart connections, and it can be<br />

further developed, rather than static and focused on outer appearances and differences.


Father wants justice after son arrested<br />

Miles and His Father’s story by Christine Rhine<br />

Miles is a pseudonym and Miles is 18 years old. His father is 52 years old.<br />

Miles’ Story<br />

Dad drops us off at this restaurant and we eat some beignets, and about 15 minutes later<br />

we’re walking out. There’s an intersection where there’s a bar, and everybody else in our<br />

group was like, “We’re just going to walk through.” And I’m like, “I’ll just meet you on the<br />

other side.”<br />

I understand. I’m sure the other side is just straight across, so I’m walking along on Bourbon<br />

Street, looking for the other students. I don’t see them, so I walk back and I’m waiting. They’re<br />

eventually going to walk by. My dad called, but I couldn’t hear him, so I said, “I’m going to<br />

walk down a quieter street.”<br />

Then three cops came. I didn’t know they were cops. I didn’t see them. I thought it was<br />

strippers because I was watching a cop and a stripper, and I thought: Whoa, I’m pretty sure<br />

they can’t grab people.<br />

The cops came up behind me and grabbed my hands and immediately put on handcuffs<br />

and somebody grabbed my phone. They did all that immediately. I didn’t think they were<br />

real. I tried to push them off. Then I saw they were actually cops and I thought: Whoa,<br />

better calm down.<br />

They said they were taking me to jail. They walked me to the precinct, and then they drove<br />

me to the jail. They said I assaulted a police officer because I tried to get away at first. I didn’t<br />

know they were cops.<br />

I remember seeing my dad walk into the police station. I was just sitting there, really mad. I<br />

thought I would get out.<br />

What happened next? I don’t remember. I have to look at the notes we wrote down. I<br />

can’t remember.<br />

The prison was dirty and cold. I don’t remember everything.<br />

I think I just want to move on, not talk about it anymore.<br />

Miles’ Father’s Story<br />

I’ve taken Ball State architecture students to New Orleans 17 or 18 times since Hurricane<br />

Katrina. My son Miles has come along three times. He is a senior in high school.<br />

On this trip, I dropped the students off at Café du Monde, and I told them to walk through<br />

the French Quarter, that I would meet them after I checked into the hotel. I told them, “when<br />

you all get to Bourbon Street and St. Peter’s, I want you to cut through a locally famous<br />

restaurant/bar establishment, so you can see the courtyard there.” Miles is underage, so I said,<br />

“Miles, while the students are passing through the bar, I want you to walk around the corner<br />

to the other side and meet them there.”<br />

I’ve thought about that so many times since. What if I’d been more explicit?<br />

Miles walked to the opposite side of the block. He didn’t understand that I meant just one<br />

quarter of the way around. He couldn’t find the group, so he walked up and down the street<br />

looking. Then the students called me, and the faculty member accompanying the students<br />

texted me to say they’d lost Miles. So, I called Miles, and he said, “Oh, I’m right here on the<br />

corner of Saint —” and then he yelled.<br />

I wanted to think someone had bumped into him or that he’d dropped the phone. I called<br />

back three times, and each time someone answered the phone and hung up. I called my mobile<br />

phone provider to see if someone had been using the phone or if the phone could be located.<br />

The provider indicated that there had been no outgoing calls and that location services were<br />

turned off; thus, they were not able to assist in locating the phone.<br />

I called the police and said, “I think my son was mugged.” They responded by asking if<br />

I wanted to file a missing person’s report. They then transferred me to the French Quarter<br />

precinct, and they informed me they had my son. I was so happy, and I rushed down there.<br />

Upon arriving, I found Miles sitting behind the main desk, in handcuffs, on a bench just<br />

staring ahead. I’d never seen him look like that. He looked through me.<br />

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46<br />

I asked, “Why is my son in handcuffs?” And the officer replied, “Your son assaulted a police<br />

officer.” I said, “No, that’s not possible.”<br />

Miles is an unusually sweet kid. I’ve never even heard him raise his voice.<br />

The policeman said, “we have reason to believe your son was involved in a drug deal,” and<br />

I said, “that’s not possible. We’ve been in New Orleans for 20 minutes. He’s a high school<br />

student from Indiana, and we are here with students from Ball State University on a field trip.<br />

They just got out of the car a few minutes ago.”<br />

They said they had a description and that Miles had been following undercover officers<br />

involved in a drug bust for an extended period of time. I said again, “that’s not possible. We<br />

just got here.”<br />

I asked to speak to someone in charge, and while I was talking to him they took Miles away<br />

in a van. Miles is 18. He is considered an adult. I asked where they took him, and they gave me<br />

an address to the notorious Orleans Parish Prison. I drove for nearly two hours trying to find<br />

the jail. They’d given me the wrong address. Finally I found it, and I was there until midnight.<br />

They told me there would be a hearing the next day at three o’clock, and there was no way I<br />

could see my son before then.<br />

We were delayed in arriving at the municipal court, because the Orleans Parish Prison staff had<br />

provided me with an incorrect location for the hearing. When we arrived, Miles had already been<br />

seated in the courtroom. His feet and hands had been chained like those of a hardened criminal, and<br />

he was chained to someone who was charged with attempted murder. Miles later indicated that it<br />

was because they had a shortage of handcuffs. The students all witnessed this mockery of justice.<br />

They’d become pretty close to Miles and were deeply affected . . .deeply affected.<br />

During the hearing, I was able to approach the bench, and I explained how we’d just arrived<br />

in New Orleans on a field study and college visit. I pleaded to the judge to release Miles and<br />

not to allow the New Orleans Criminal Justice system to ruin the life of yet another black<br />

male. The judge said this was just to set bail, and then he lectured the students about not<br />

partying and getting into trouble. It was awful.<br />

The prosecutor proposed a $25,000 bail. The public defender proposed reducing the bail to<br />

$10,000. The judged issued a $2,500 bail; however, upon realizing that Miles was a high school<br />

student, he reduced the bail to $1,000, so we paid $100 cash bond. After the hearing, they took<br />

Miles back to the prison. It took another 12 hours before they ultimately released him.<br />

While I sat there waiting for hours, I reflected on people like Sandra Bland whose family<br />

couldn’t scrape together $500 to get her out. And I’m thinking about all the others in the<br />

Orleans Parish Prison, waiting for a trial date because they couldn’t come up with money for<br />

bail. I’m thinking about the police officers’ smugness. I thought about the time I had a gun<br />

put to my head by a policeman when I was the same age as Miles. I also thought about other<br />

run-ins I had with the police. I’ve been pulled over and screamed at by officers on the Fallen<br />

Heroes Memorial Bridge – a memorial I had volunteered to design on their behalf. I recalled<br />

having my luggage dumped out of the car, having my baby daughter pulled out of her car seat,<br />

so they could search for drugs I didn’t have. I was thinking about all the times we came down<br />

here to volunteer to help the people of New Orleans rebuild. I was thinking how fortunate I<br />

was that Miles wasn’t tased or shot.<br />

And I thought about how this otherwise wonderful field trip was destroyed by ignorance,<br />

stupidity, hatred, and racial profiling.<br />

Am I coming back to New Orleans? No time soon. Not New Orleans.<br />

But I tell the students, it could have happened anywhere in these United States. This is not<br />

law enforcement. It’s apartheid.<br />

My son wants to forget what happened. I’ve seen that trying to forget doesn’t change anything.<br />

I’ve seen that in my own life. I want justice. I want an apology.<br />

Defense attorneys were successful in getting the case against Miles dismissed. The family is<br />

now seeking to have the record expunged.


I See Things More Clearly Now<br />

Fred Long’s story by Beth Messner<br />

Fred is 55 years old.<br />

My family moved here in the 1950s from Mississippi looking for jobs. I was born here<br />

and lived in Muncie almost all my life. I went to Muncie Central High School and played<br />

on the basketball team. When I finished school in 1979, I worked a couple of jobs—one<br />

in meatpacking and one at Ball Hospital. Then I got a good job at BorgWarner that<br />

lasted over 23 years. Me and my wife, Glenda, we have four kids between us. All four<br />

were raised here.<br />

When I was in school, I knew about racism. But I didn’t take it as seriously as now. Me<br />

and my friends were just kids. We were into girls and sports. We weren’t really into the<br />

race stuff. We did know that you didn’t date outside your race. But, if people called us<br />

names, we just didn’t pay it no attention. Even one of the biggest things that happened<br />

to us, me and my friends just laughed off…<br />

We was playing a basketball game at Blackford. We were a good team, really good.<br />

Over half of us was African-American. We were beating Blackford pretty bad. One of<br />

our guys laid up the ball and scored. When he turned to come back down the court,<br />

someone in the bleachers behind the basket grabbed him and threw him into the crowd.<br />

All we saw was fists flying and him trying to cover himself up. Coach Harrell jumped<br />

up and made us all go to the shower room. We didn’t know what was happening with<br />

our teammate. He finally came into the showers and was laughing. He had knots all over<br />

him. When they finally let us come back out, they had police all around the court. Coach<br />

Harrell said we were never coming back there again. Now, as I look back on it, I realize<br />

how serious it was, how bad our teammate could have been hurt. But, back then, with<br />

us being young, we was just laughing.<br />

Now, as an adult, I look around and see things differently. Like the situation with jobs.<br />

What I see on a day-to-day basis, sometimes I don’t think it represents Muncie.<br />

I worked for BorgWarner for 23 ½ years. That was a real good job. Good pay and<br />

benefits. A pretty diverse company too. I only had a few run-ins with racists. Mostly<br />

name-calling and stuff like that. That job really took care of me and my family. Planned<br />

to retire from there with a good pension. But they closed down.<br />

When I had to get back in the job market, that’s when I seen it . . . the discrimination.<br />

I was looking for jobs that were similar and paid similar. I would apply, then not get it.<br />

I had over 20 years of experience. Then I would see who was hired, people who had less<br />

years in than me, people who was a different color than me. I may be wrong, but I’m just<br />

going from what I see.<br />

I tried for a job at Ball State. They were hiring for lawn care positions. So I talked to<br />

a guy there, pitched my qualifications, told him how I had a landscape business. I didn’t<br />

get a call. They hired someone else. Then it happened again and again at the same place<br />

with the same kind of job. Finally, I got someone to help me and I got an interview. The<br />

guy said, “So you know how to drive a mower?”<br />

They set up a course and I drove the course.<br />

He said, “Okay, you been on a mower.”<br />

Didn’t even check my resume! I did get a job offer, but it was for a part-time,<br />

temporary job. Me with over 20 years of experience and my own landscape business! It<br />

was just something.<br />

Then I started looking around town. I didn’t see too many other African-Americans<br />

getting hired either. In particular, I noticed the people working for the utility companies.<br />

Their employees are out and around a lot. I could see them digging up a road for a water<br />

leak, or setting up service at a house, or up on a ladder beside a utility pole. I only saw<br />

one African-American guy. All the rest I was seeing was white men. I thought: Wow!<br />

You’re in the community, and you’re serving the community, but you’re not representing<br />

the community. Is nobody Black qualified?<br />

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48<br />

I emailed a lady from a utility company. I told her what I saw in the Muncie area and asked if<br />

they were making any attempt to hire African-Americans. The lady said, “I’ll get back to you<br />

on that.” She never did.<br />

For places like that, I’m pretty sure their hiring practices have been like that for quite some<br />

time. But what happens when they got the discrimination exposed? What are they going to do<br />

about it? They would probably say, “Well, we’ll make an effort to do something.”<br />

I don’t understand this. My thinking is that since you know you been doing wrong, then<br />

you not only need to fix it for now and the future, but you need to make up for all the times<br />

you done wrong in the past. Maybe the next ten people you hire should be African-American<br />

or Hispanic. I’m sure someone will say, “Oh no, you can’t do that!” But you can’t just brush<br />

aside the past! Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s just the way I see it. And I<br />

think I’m seeing things more clearly now.


Another Kind of Racism<br />

Matt Bailey’s story as told to Barbara Miller<br />

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Good<br />

Tonikia Steans’ story by Anna Groover<br />

Tonikia is 41 years old.<br />

I was born and raised here in Muncie, Indiana, and it has been my foundation for<br />

most of my life.<br />

I’m a licensed insurance agent and a certified life coach.<br />

The way I was raised wasn’t black or white, it was individuality. Racism was<br />

never really a topic of discussion growing up because we have all nationalities in<br />

our family. I’m a black American.<br />

My grandparents felt that white people were superior to black people. My<br />

grandfather would always tell me, “You always are going to have to work for the<br />

white man. You always have to work for someone white.” I was just like, why do<br />

you always say that? Because I always wanted to run my own business. And he<br />

always said, “You will never run your own business. You will always work for<br />

somebody white.” That always rubbed me the wrong way, because it’s just not true.<br />

I had a job when I got out of high school at a chair factory. There were people<br />

there who didn’t take too kindly to black people, I remember. I can walk into a<br />

room and get along with anybody, but that was the first time I was faced with<br />

someone who didn’t like me because of my skin color. I moved up to supervisor,<br />

and some of the girls didn’t like that too well because they didn’t move up. I never<br />

thought it was because of anything other than my work ethic that got me moved<br />

up. I don’t remember any words, it was so long ago, but I just know the treatment<br />

and the shortness and how they acted toward me.<br />

For me, racism is subtle things that you realize but can overlook, like being passed<br />

up for certain positions or told that you’re not ready for a position when you have<br />

way more qualifications than someone else who gets the job. Or being told amongst<br />

white counterparts that I’m the whitest black person they know because of the way<br />

I talk and act—as if being intelligent is only a white thing. Truthfully, I’ve never<br />

used race as a reason to say that I’ve been hurt or shunned. I’ve never looked at it<br />

like that, because I’ve always tried to see the bigger picture. If there’s something I<br />

want to do, I’m capable of it and I have just as much right to do it as anyone else.<br />

Sometimes, people tell me to “calm down.” I am calm. Do you want me to<br />

whisper? You know, like black women have attitudes or they’re going to get all<br />

snippity-snappity. I’m the only black person at my job, and I think that makes a<br />

big difference. At work, for instance, there’s a white girl there who is really out of<br />

control. She yells at people, she confronts people, the whole nine.She gets away<br />

with murder, and I don’t even think they realize it. But if I say something back, I<br />

need to be talked to. Not only that, but I had to have HR come in and talk to me<br />

and ask me if I felt like I had self-control.<br />

I did have a lady one time who called in because her daughter, my client, was<br />

stuck on the highway. Her daughter and I had a really good customer-service agent<br />

relationship. Anyway, her mom called me, so I said, “Okay, let me see what I can do<br />

to help,” and she just started yelling at me for no reason and even used racial slurs<br />

against me. At that point, I was just like, “Okay, ma’am, I was trying to help you<br />

here.” I still tried to help her. Later, I got to talk to her daughter. I told her what had<br />

happened, and she said, “I cannot believe she talked to you like that because my<br />

child is black.” She has a black grandchild, and for her to say something like that…<br />

it’s devastating. It shook me up a little bit, because there’s no reason for that.<br />

51


52<br />

I have a step-son, and he’s 20. He’s a very good kid, but he has braids in his hair. I’ll never<br />

forget the neighbor that lived across the street from us when he was younger. She would treat<br />

him like he was a little thug. He was very respectful, but because he had braids in his hair,<br />

she was looking at him like he was something that he’s not. I didn’t appreciate that, because<br />

she didn’t know this young man. She didn’t know his character, what he is really built of, but<br />

because of an outward appearance, she automatically assumed that he was bad. Why does it<br />

have to be that someone’s skin color defines how they’re going to act?<br />

My daughter is light skinned and she has long hair. She goes to school, and she comes<br />

home and she’s like, “Mom, am I mixed? Am I Mexican? People ask me every day what color<br />

I am or why my hair is long.” And I say, “Your grandmother is five shades darker than you<br />

and her hair is just as long as yours. I mean, that’s just the type of hair you have. You got it<br />

from your dad’s side of the family.” Why does this have to be an issue? I don’t agree with<br />

that. It’s disheartening.<br />

I tell my daughter, regardless of what anybody says, you have to love yourself. And nobody<br />

in this world is better than you are. She loves everybody, and we try not to live in a world of<br />

“white people are bad” or anything like that because I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I<br />

don’t think that white people are bad. I don’t think that black people are bad. I think that there<br />

are people who do things that are bad, and there are people who do things that are good.


Who’s on Your Team?<br />

Renae Mayes’ story by Taylor Wicker<br />

Renae is 30 years old.<br />

I played basketball all through junior high. Like most people’s middle school<br />

experiences, there was a group of girls on my team who were at the top of the social<br />

hierarchy, the girls who, for some unknown reason, had all the power, and for some<br />

reason (also unknown) they did not like me.<br />

It’s easy to separate the reasons why someone might be targeted in the way I was: did<br />

these girls not like me for what I was, or for what I wasn’t? Did they not like me because<br />

I didn’t look like them or because I didn’t look like anyone in our community?<br />

The truth is that those two things go hand in hand. Growing up in a predominantly<br />

white community, I know it was because I was different. I am black, and I can only<br />

assume their negative feelings towards me were, in part, because of the color of my<br />

skin and that it didn’t happen match their own. But it wasn’t just that they didn’t<br />

like me, it’s that they made those feelings known by actively excluding me. The<br />

normal camaraderie one feels from being part of a team was taken from me by these<br />

girls, and both me and my close friend felt the sting of that rejection. Inside jokes,<br />

team activities, the social dynamic of playing a sport together for multiple seasons<br />

was something my friend and I were, for some reason, not allowed to experience.<br />

Every game day, it was one person’s job to bring snacks. I can’t remember who<br />

we played that one particular game, but I can remember whose turn it was to bring<br />

the food. This girl, whose mom was a dermatologist, brought something extra to the<br />

game: a small bag with each player’s name on it. It was a sweet gesture, from the<br />

outside. Here, my name written right on the side of the bag, was an opportunity for<br />

this girl to be kind to me for once. Here, she had a chance to treat me the same way<br />

she treated our other teammates.<br />

But when I opened the bag, I found that the contents were not as kind as I would’ve<br />

hoped they’d be. Makeup, specifically foundation, made for a white woman’s pale skin,<br />

rested at the bottom. What was I supposed to do with these? Did she realize the message<br />

she was sending with this “gift?”<br />

You’re different, the make up said. And you don’t fit in.<br />

Later, after the season ended, during a post-season scrimmage, the same girl tackled<br />

me so hard I tore a ligament in my ankle. Moving for months with crutches beneath my<br />

arms, I was done playing basketball.<br />

We first moved from New Mexico to Oklahoma, where my teammates gave me a taste<br />

of what battles lie ahead, when I was in sixth grade. In school, despite being “gifted,”<br />

for all intents and purposes, I was put in the normal class. The distinction of excelling<br />

academically, as well as being involved in sports, only bolstered how “different” my<br />

classmates viewed me. I was new, I was intelligent, I was athletic, I was black, and I was<br />

living in a predominantly white community again, and that combination of things put<br />

me in a vulnerable place.<br />

When I say that I grew up in a predominantly white community, I mean that my parents<br />

and brothers and sister were one of only two black families in my school. Because of<br />

that, when we moved in, it somehow became clear that our family and the other black<br />

family were now, for some reason, directly linked in our community’s minds. I was not<br />

my own person. I was not offered a fresh slate. Because of the community’s naivety, or<br />

perhaps their learned racism, I immediately inherited all of thafamily’s history. Despite<br />

being complete strangers, the two black families in the community were casually thrown<br />

together without even a second thought.<br />

53


I come from a first generation middle class family, so moving to the Oklahoma suburbs<br />

wasn’t just a new experience for me, but for my parents, too. When we moved from New<br />

Mexico, it was instilled in us that anything my brothers, sister, and I needed we could find at<br />

home. Despite being a typical kid and feeling those rebellious tendencies, my family became<br />

my safe haven. They were my team. The outside community became territory that didn’t<br />

offer what I needed. “They will fail you,” my parents said, who were learning the dynamics of<br />

being a minority at the same time we were. “We will not.” It was through my family that I first<br />

learned the importance of always having a community of my own.<br />

I went to University of Missouri to study Math Education and I loved it. I loved what I<br />

was learning, I loved learning all the different ways to teach, the different types of pedagogy.<br />

But despite enjoying my time there, I noticed that there wasn’t a space to teach diversity<br />

in education, and based on my experiences, I knew that it mattered. I knew, from personal<br />

experience, that being a student of color and having that identity swept under the rug, it was so<br />

very, very important, so very vital, to a student’s education that we do have those conversations.<br />

But we never talked about it.<br />

That propelled me to seek out new experiences where those conversations were happening,<br />

and that’s part of why I ended up in the D.C. area. I was pursuing a master’s degree in a program<br />

that was focused on social justice and urban school counseling. Before then, I wouldn’t call<br />

myself a person in urban ed, but getting thrown into a school with more people of color, and<br />

very critically aware white people, was an amazing experience. When I think about my time in<br />

D.C., I became a different kind of black. There, I wasn’t “the black student,” and I didn’t feel<br />

the need to be a spokesperson, but rather I added to lots of different kinds of narratives about<br />

what it means to be a person of color. I met people from all different backgrounds with all<br />

different kinds of stories to tell, and through them I learned more and more about who I was.<br />

— • —<br />

Once I realized how messed up some people really are, it became easier to distance myself<br />

from the racism that is still very much a part of today’s culture. Once I realized that the racist<br />

remarks people made were more about them and what’s going on in their heads than it was<br />

about me, everything became a little easier to deal with. Being a part of any group that can be<br />

marginalized or oppressed, you have to learn how to do that, how to distance yourself. If you<br />

spend your time addressing all the things people do or say or believe, all the things that are so<br />

incredibly wrong, you will never live a happy life.<br />

There’s this theory called critical race theory, and part of it is this idea that racism or<br />

oppression in any form will always exist. It’s about power and control, and it’s our job to keep<br />

fighting that. I choose the venue I will fight in. I fight it in schools. I fight it there because that’s<br />

where I needed it the most when I was a student. I fight it there because that would’ve made<br />

all the difference in my life, in my youth, in growing up and learning my identity and being<br />

proud of who I was. I talk to my students about it. I help them have a critical consciousness<br />

that they take with them to the classroom. I focus on giving them the skill set they need in<br />

order to continue fighting that. That’s where the battlefield is for me: in schools. And it’s in<br />

schools, and in the classroom, where I will continue to fight.<br />

54


The Need to Belong: The Life of a Muslim in America<br />

Heather Gilvary-Hamad’s story by Angela Jackson-Brown<br />

Heather is 46 years old.<br />

There are certain topics, as a Muslim…as a Muslim woman…that I am tired of addressing.<br />

Conversations about hijab. Exhausting. Conversations about whether or not Muslims<br />

should apologize for the actions of terrorists who claim to be Muslims. Unfair and<br />

exhausting. Conversations about whether or not Muslim women are downtrodden and<br />

under the thumbs of their husbands. Absolutely wrong and emotionally draining that<br />

continually Muslim women have to explain that not only are we not downtrodden, we<br />

are revered and highly respected by our husbands and families.<br />

At the same time, although I am tired of talking about the same issues over and over,<br />

I understand the conversations still need to occur [be had], particularly now when<br />

potential political leaders say things like, “We need databases for Muslims,” or “We<br />

should exclude Muslims from specific activities.”<br />

So, we sometimes roll our eyes when it is just “us” together, but at the end of the day<br />

we know that we have to continue the dialogue because, in some cases, our lives depend<br />

on it.<br />

Yes, talking about hijab can be frustrating. I personally don’t wear hijab on a regular<br />

basis, because we, as Muslims, know that it is not accepted by many non-Muslims. If I<br />

put on hijab, I worry that maybe I risk violent attitudes or negative responses from total<br />

strangers in the grocery store or the mall. Some people feel it is their right to comment<br />

on our attire, which is amazing to me. They don’t get that it is rude. It is the equivalent<br />

of me asking a Christian, “Why are you wearing that cross?”<br />

That is just not something I or any Muslim would do. Until I wore hijab and felt the<br />

eyes on me, I didn’t understand what other Muslim women meant when they would<br />

say, “They are staring at me in public when I wear hijab.” Before I wore hijab, I would<br />

think, well, maybe you misinterpreted the stares, or maybe they really aren’t staring,<br />

or maybe it is more curiosity than animosity. But once I became that one person in the<br />

room who was doing something different like wearing hijab, I felt the fear that other<br />

Muslim women speak about.<br />

And I come to find that fear is a constant in the lives of Muslims. Whether it is the way<br />

we dress or just the ordeal of traveling. . .we can’t get away from fear. The last time my<br />

family and I crossed the border, we were visiting my husband’s brother in Canada. We<br />

drove across the border on the day we stopped fasting for Ramadan. We had breakfast,<br />

prayers, and then we packed up. However, when we got to the border, preparing to<br />

cross over into Detroit, we were stopped for no less than four to five hours. Our car was<br />

searched, and my husband was taken to the back room. Before going to the back room,<br />

the officer put a glove on his hand, and instantly I knew what was about to happen.<br />

My husband did not see the officer put the glove on his hand. My children didn’t<br />

understand what was happening. My husband went into the room with the officer, and<br />

I felt sick to my stomach. When he came out, my husband was almost deathly pale from<br />

the humiliation he had just endured. My son instantly started questioning, “Baba what<br />

happened to you? What did they do to you?” And I was like, “Hush. Baba doesn’t want<br />

to talk about what just happened to him in there.”<br />

I knew it would be too humiliating. And then to have the officer, after hours of<br />

detaining us, say, “Well, there was a misunderstanding. You can go ahead and go.”<br />

We hadn’t eaten during this whole ordeal. This was the first day of the month during<br />

daylight hours that we could eat during the day, and so we were sitting there for all of<br />

those hours with our kids, after having told them earlier that day that, “Oh, today is a<br />

holiday, a celebration,” yet we were allowed no food, no drinks, and no bathroom visits<br />

without permission.<br />

55


56<br />

We had told the kids that once we crossed the border we would get lunch in Detroit. But<br />

there we were, four or five hours later, very hungry, very tired, and the last thing we wanted to<br />

do was to stop. We wanted to get as far away from the border as we could. So the kids were in<br />

the back, saying, “We want to eat. We want to eat.” We were like, “Sorry guys. We need to get<br />

out of here.” We wanted to get the experience as far away from us as we physically could.<br />

Since then, my husband has tried to make sure he was clear to fly with airports and Customs<br />

before he attempted to fly to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but, of course, we were<br />

told there is no guarantee, so we don’t fly anywhere together as a family. If we want to go on<br />

vacation it has to be somewhere we can all get into the car and drive to because there is no<br />

more crossing the border for us. So it limits our ability to visit with his family. It’s tragic,<br />

but, sadly, it is the new normal for Muslim families.<br />

I want my children to live in a place where they can interact with diverse populations of<br />

people, whether they be Muslims or someone else…maybe Jewish, maybe Hindu, maybe<br />

Atheist, maybe gay, maybe Black, maybe Hispanic. My children need to be out there interacting<br />

with all of different types of people because that is the world they are going to work and live<br />

in in the future.<br />

So, I say to non-Muslims…we are just like you. We want the same things for ourselves and<br />

our families that you want for yours, and that is the freedom to love and live in peace.


A Long Road Travelled<br />

Charles Payne’s story by Steve Knote<br />

Charles is 74 years old.<br />

Education is the key to escape the bonds of racism. Both society and individuals must<br />

be educated to overcome the destruction of racism.<br />

My parents’ skin color was extremely light and they were college graduates so I did<br />

not experience racism to the same degree as many of my friends. But since we were<br />

still “Negroes or colored,” terms used back then, we experienced racism every day of<br />

our lives-in terms of what schools we went to and the quality and conditions of those<br />

schools. We were confined to certain neighborhoods, limited to the same menial jobs<br />

and had to follow the same Jim Crow laws.<br />

One of the many unwritten rules we had to follow was to never touch a white person<br />

under any circumstances, so when meeting a group of whites on the sidewalk, especially<br />

females or young white males determined to make contact and cause problems, it was<br />

easier and less threatening to walk in the street to avoid even incidental contact. And<br />

when we paid for goods at a store, we would have to lay the money on the counter. If<br />

there was change, the clerk would place it on the counter or throw it back. This was true<br />

for adults as well as children.<br />

Living conditions in the Jim Crow South meant growing up in white-owned housing.<br />

There was no government housing and many blacks lived in rental homes (shacks)<br />

that belonged to whites. The community was divided into quarters, and each quarter<br />

was named after the white man who owned the houses. However, my parents were<br />

teachers and we owned our home, along with a few other families, in the much smaller<br />

Independence Quarter.<br />

In the segregated black schools there were never enough books or materials, including<br />

text books. All of our text books were second hand books from the white school. Our<br />

books were always 5-7 years or longer behind the white students. It was against the law<br />

to teach black history. One of our teachers would slip and teach us some black history.<br />

Whenever he did this, we couldn’t take notes in order that no record would exist. All<br />

books had a space to write the race of the student to whom it was issued. The book cards<br />

for black students were in the back of the book. In the space for race we were supposed<br />

to write “nigger.” However, we had been instructed to write a capital N, for Negro.<br />

However, the white superintendent had been tipped off to this avoidance of writing the<br />

N word, and one day the superintendent visited to inspect our books. “What is this ‘N’<br />

here?” He asked the black principal. “What does this ‘N’ stand for?” He then stated,<br />

“Give them a pen; I want every one of you to write what that is. I want you to write<br />

‘nigger’ in the back of that book.”<br />

I have never forgotten the look of humiliation on our principal’s face.<br />

Segregation was slow to change. Television helped it along because everyone could<br />

now see what black leaders were saying about the brutal conditions in the South.<br />

Television was to the civil rights movement what body cams today are to police abuse.<br />

I was on a Trailways bus on the Sunday evening James Meredith entered Ole Miss. I was<br />

returning to my home town, Philadelphia MS from Holly Springs, MS, a town about 30<br />

miles from Oxford, where Ole Miss is located, Meredith’s entry was being broadcasted<br />

on radio and television, As such many whites were demonstrating throughout all of the<br />

little towns in the vicinity, parading in their cars with very large rebel flags waving and<br />

horn blowing and supposedly looking for blacks. The bus stopped in New Albany and<br />

the driver got out of the bus and locked the door. I didn’t know if I was being “locked<br />

in,” or if the angry whites were being locked out. A couple of the fellows approached<br />

the driver and said something to him, and I saw him shake his head saying no. I assumed<br />

they had asked him if there were any blacks on the bus. I witnessed the driver stating<br />

that there was no one on the bus. The driver may have very well saved my life that day.<br />

I also realized that he had also put his own life in jeopardy if they had found out he had<br />

lied to them.<br />

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58<br />

In 1968 I left Mississippi Valley State College (an Historically Black College) as a chemistry<br />

instructor to enter a graduate program in chemistry at a predominantly white university in<br />

the south. I was recruited by a white fellow who had just become department chair of the<br />

chemistry department. What I didn’t know when I went there was that he was viewed as a<br />

Yankee by the faculty in the department, and he was also not a popular choice. One of his goals<br />

was to integrate the department, so I became his guinea pig.<br />

In one class we were told to choose lab partners. While all of the white students immediately<br />

distanced themselves from me, one fellow, a white undergraduate honor student, agreed to<br />

work with me. We completed multiple labs to only get a grade of “C” on each report. When<br />

my partner inquired, the professor stated, “You ought to watch your partner as he might<br />

be messing up your stuff.” My partner stated, “Charles has not done anything wrong, he is<br />

probably helping me.” When my partner expressed concern about the effect this would have<br />

on his graduate school aspirations, I told him he had shown me who he was as a person. I told<br />

him not to sacrifice himself that the professor was out to get me, so partner with some other<br />

guys. His first lab report without me and with a white partner, received an “A.”<br />

When I came to Ball State during my first year, when I would leave my class, two of my<br />

white colleagues always seemed to be watching me every day. I became suspicious that they<br />

were somehow trying to evaluate me. One day two of the white males in the class told me<br />

that these two colleagues met them on campus and asked them about me. “Does he appear to<br />

know what he is talking about? Is he prepared for class, and does he treat you all fairly? “So<br />

the next day I went to class and I intentionally left the door open. About half way through<br />

class I walked over to the door and looked out. There they were listening to me teach. So I<br />

waved to them, and I said to myself, if they want to hear good teaching continue standing out<br />

there. Five years later one of those colleagues admitted to me what he was doing then. So, I<br />

asked him what finally convinced him that I was competent. He said it took him five years<br />

of listening to me to be convinced I was competent. I thought to myself five years is an awful<br />

long time to wait on someone to make a mistake. In that same conversation, he confirmed that<br />

he and the other colleague appointed themselves to “observe” me for five years to make sure I<br />

was competent. That’s a long time for somebody to be under the microscope.<br />

These days I am very careful before I assign racism to something unfavorable that happens to<br />

me. For example, I have two attributes that can also cause people to react to me in disrespectful<br />

ways. Those my age, 74, and I walk with a cane. This is important to me because I can deal<br />

with the first two in a rational way, but once I think someone has done something to me<br />

because of race, if I am not careful, I can become too emotional and irrational. In my opinion<br />

too much emotion can become counterproductive.<br />

I think things are getting better, although it appears to be regressing at times. I think the<br />

short view is that we have not improved, but from the long view, we have improved quite a<br />

bit. It is difficult for one African-American to answer for all other African-Americans. There<br />

were many African-American experiences. Those having become middle class probably get<br />

along very well, as life is typically better than those still trapped in levels of poverty. It’s crucial<br />

that those who make it into the middle class don’t forget where we came from. As black<br />

professionals leave the community, they are less available to help lift and inspire those without<br />

academic aspirations and social sensitivities.<br />

When one asks these days if “we” are better off, it definitely makes a difference which<br />

African American is being asked.


I Prefer to Be Called Muriel<br />

Muriel Weeden’s story by Levi Todd<br />

Muriel is 75 years old.<br />

I grew up in Muncie in the 1940s, which was very segregated when I was a girl.<br />

Discrimination in public was the norm. Black people weren’t allowed to eat at lunch<br />

counters downtown. We knew we were allowed at the skating rink only at certain times,<br />

the times when less white folks were there. In middle school I wasn’t allowed a role in the<br />

Christmas play because my teacher said there weren’t any black people in the Nativity.<br />

They did let me act in the Easter play in the role of a woman that I later realized was a<br />

prostitute. Everyone knew that Muncie was a hotbed for the KKK. The mayor, lawyers,<br />

public officials—you knew they were in positions of power around the town. You just dealt<br />

with them.<br />

When I graduated high school, I enrolled in the Indiana Business College in downtown<br />

Muncie. The program guaranteed a job after graduation. I was one of only two black<br />

women in the program. The other woman was placed in a doctor’s office, but they told me<br />

that no other offices were hiring black people in Muncie. They said there was a position in<br />

Indianapolis, but I told them, “I don’t live there. I live in Muncie.” I wanted to stay where<br />

my home was.<br />

Eventually a friend told me about a position working in housekeeping at the local hospital. She<br />

told me to go to the supervisor and tell her that I wanted to save up to go back to school—which<br />

I did, years later—and I was hired. I worked weekends cleaning bathrooms and patients’ rooms,<br />

usually by myself since my partner was always slacking off.<br />

At that time the Muncie NAACP was negotiating with the local phone company to<br />

hire their first person of color to work in their office. The phone company argued that<br />

black people only wanted to work for their housekeeping staff, and none were applying<br />

for positions in the office anyway. They also said that no person of color had passed the<br />

test necessary for applications, leaving out the fact that they didn’t even offer to test them.<br />

Eventually, through negotiations with the NAACP, they said that if a black person could<br />

pass the test, they would open up office positions to them. I was referred by a friend to the<br />

President of the Muncie NAACP, and he encouraged me to take the test. I passed with high<br />

marks and was the first black woman hired in Muncie to be a long-distance operator.<br />

When I came to my first day of training, I was told to sit at the end of the board where the<br />

lines were set up. Back then if you wanted to make a long-distance call, you had to have an<br />

operator connect it to wherever you were calling. It wasn’t easily automated like it is now.<br />

There were wires everywhere and phones ringing constantly. There was a row of stools<br />

down the aisle. No partitions or cubicles for privacy. My supervisor kept making comments<br />

during my training like “We just weren’t ready for you” or “We just don’t quite know what<br />

to do with you.” She never explained how they had to get ready for me, or what different<br />

circumstances had to be changed to accommodate me.<br />

When I finally passed training and was able to take an open seat at the board, the white<br />

women seemed unsettled by my presence. It was clear that I was the first black person they<br />

had actually spoken to and interacted with. I learned quickly that if I so much as coughed<br />

or sneezed, they’d go complain to our supervisor that I was making too much noise or that<br />

they were worried they would catch something from me. Although it annoyed me, I was<br />

never too bothered by their comments.<br />

My parents raised me with a strong sense of pride and knowledge about black history. I<br />

actually thought that as a person of color, I had an advantage. I was forced to adapt to white<br />

people’s culture and learned how to interact with them. My coworkers were never put in<br />

circumstances where they were the only white person in a room, and they never had to<br />

learn about my culture the way I had to learn about theirs. I was comfortable around white<br />

people and knew how to manage myself, and I saw that as an advantage.<br />

The white women were always nervous about asking me, “What do we call you? Do<br />

you prefer ‘colored’ or ‘negro’?” They didn’t even know how to speak around me. I<br />

always answered, “I prefer to be called ‘Muriel’.” I think what people don’t realize is that<br />

underneath it all, we’re basically all the same, with the same hopes and desires and dreams.<br />

But in order to realize that, we have to get together and talk to one another. And call each<br />

other by our names.<br />

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Sink or Swim; in Code<br />

Ruby Cain’s story by Aimee Robertson-Fant<br />

Ruby is 64 years old.<br />

I didn’t know what to do.<br />

My sister and I were walking home from school and saw the police swarming around<br />

my father in our driveway. They were there to arrest him.<br />

Looking into my father’s face, I understood that something unjust was happening to<br />

him, right in front of our eyes, but I was too young to understand just what that was; I<br />

was only 9, my sister, 8. What could we do? With as much dignity as he could gather, he<br />

unlocked the door, told us to go into the house and call our mom at work.<br />

I called. Through confusion, tears and hysteria, I tried to relay to her the police were<br />

taking our father away. I could barely find my words.<br />

He didn’t argue with them. He was stoic and calm, for us, but inside he must have<br />

been broken and humiliated.<br />

They took him to jail, under false arrest.<br />

My father was a city bus driver, a law-abiding citizen, and never even received a traffic<br />

ticket. We later learned the bank robber looked nothing like my father in height, build,<br />

nor complexion; the only common and distinguishing characteristic between my father<br />

and this bank robber was their race; they were both black men.<br />

I lived in Detroit during the riots of 1967 and 68, through all the curfews, violence, the<br />

“blind pig” raid headlines, and property destruction. As a young girl, I read all about it<br />

in the paper. My parents and others talked about the 20 black men found at the bottom<br />

of the Detroit River.<br />

I read about and listened to others talk about a black man walking from home to the<br />

bus station to work third shift. He did not know the city was under curfew. The police<br />

told him to stop, but he was deaf and could not hear the command. They riddled him<br />

with bullets, in his back. He presented no threat. He was just a black man who was deaf,<br />

going to work.<br />

While our family was stopped at a red light, we saw in the adjacent alley, 3 police<br />

officers beating a black, possibly, homeless man who was begging them to stop. Who do<br />

you call when there is a disturbance, a violent attack? You call the police. But what if the<br />

attackers are the police?<br />

These experiences with police were in stark contrast to the other experiences in my<br />

childhood of a predominantly segregated and nurturing family, neighborhood, church,<br />

and school. We knew all police officers were not hostile, but we did not know if an<br />

encounter would be position or negative. Decades later, as I reflect back, no one could<br />

or would even be willing to report this dark side of blue culture, not like today.<br />

As an African American girl (living in Detroit) blue code was among the first codes I<br />

would learn and as one of the first female African American leaders in the Information<br />

Technology field, I would learn many codes.<br />

Moving to the North from the South was disorienting. It was easier to live among the<br />

overt South vs. the covert North. In the South many decades ago, you knew exactly<br />

what you were dealing with; whites who didn’t care for blacks wouldstay away and<br />

not try to pretend. When my family moved to Detroit, where there was neighborhood<br />

and subdivision de Facto segregation and red-lining; we felt more like immigrants than<br />

Americans, having lived in Camden, Arkansas, where everyone knows everyone on<br />

your block, there was sense of community and we knew who our friends were and who<br />

they were not.<br />

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Fast forward. As a young African American woman, college graduate, I decided to enter the<br />

Information Technology field. I unknowingly blazed a new trail, but not before I was left to sink<br />

or swim, with no mentor and no guidance; left to my own devices-my own mathematical mind<br />

and my own two hands and feet; there are barriers placed in your way – you learn how find a<br />

way around them quickly or have the doors close the doors in your face.<br />

Of course, everyone has help along the way. My help, nurture, and guidance, came from<br />

family, church, and friends, mostly, outside of the workplace. They believed in me. They<br />

encouraged me all the way through my doctoral studies.<br />

I came to Indiana at the beginning of my evolving IT career for an interview conducted by 3 white<br />

men. Although I interviewed well and answered many irrelevant questions I was not offered the job<br />

because they said I was “overqualified.” Interestingly enough, a number of years later this company<br />

faced a lawsuit for discrimination and ended up moving from the state.<br />

What I found along the way in my IT positions is that no one actively tried to sabotage me.<br />

Instead, they gave me nearly impossible assignments that I had to figure out on my own while<br />

providing a roadmap and guidance to my Caucasian counterparts. I was first to arrive to work<br />

and last to leave, many days.<br />

I was tested over and over. I just made myself irreplaceable and developed skills no one else<br />

had. This is how I swam. I could write my own ticket and won several regional and national<br />

awards through the course of my career. I was named the most successful data processing<br />

information project manager in both Arkansas and California.<br />

Today, I am in Indiana and have followed my drive to be an educator. I have taught at Ball<br />

State and in Fort Wayne, and today, I have focused my energy on healing internalized and<br />

institutional racism through shared understanding. There is still a sense of unearned privilege,<br />

if not by class, but by the fact that most institutions are run by whites, but not built by them.<br />

It will take time for this to be right-sided and our due diligence is to have patience with equal<br />

parts persistence.<br />

We can’t just put things into nice, neat boxes, and construct a “things not to say” list or<br />

worse, say that we are colorblind. If you are colorblind, you don’t see me. I am not allowed to<br />

forget I am a person of color, nor will I ever want to.<br />

We have to stop censoring ourselves when we speak to one another. It’s okay to make<br />

mistakes. I have learned that you must ask questions to grow. You must stop believing someone<br />

doesn’t like me because they aren’t “like” me. We must understand “the why”; always make<br />

sure you understand why we are different and why we are the same. So often we are afraid<br />

of saying the wrong things when speaking to and trying to crack the code of our differences,<br />

particularly surrounding race relations.<br />

Speak up. Ask the questions.<br />

You do not have to be the savior to make a difference - just be one of the foot soldiers.<br />

For me, I just learn the codes and keep swimming.<br />

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Time Warp<br />

Vivian Morrison’s story by Sherri Beaty<br />

Vivian is 60 years old.<br />

I’m black, so I live in a time warp. I live in the same year, the same decade, the same<br />

century as everyone else, but I also live in this strange and terrifying universe where one<br />

false step, one wrong word, can send you sliding down uncontrollably into that time<br />

warp where Jim Crow still runs the show.<br />

In that place, no one sees who you are in your community. They don’t see you<br />

volunteering, or teaching, or helping your neighbors and your family. They don’t see the<br />

years you spent pursuing your education or supporting a local church. They don’t see you<br />

loving your children and doing your best to be a good mother. They only see that you are<br />

black, and suddenly, for you, it looks like 2013, but it feels and sounds like 1930.<br />

I had no idea it would turn out the way it did. Maybe I never would have made that<br />

phone call in the first place if I had known. But I knew this person; we had met before.<br />

She knew my family and I trusted her.<br />

I didn’t call 911. It wasn’t an emergency. It was just a family dispute and because I<br />

knew this officer, and she had met both me and Toni (my adult daughter), I knew she<br />

could talk to Toni in a way that maybe she could hear. Cops do that all the time, right?<br />

Toni wanted to use my car to go visit some people I didn’t know and they didn’t look<br />

like nice people to me. I couldn’t stop her from going, but she was NOT taking my car.<br />

Since Toni wasn’t listening, I called dispatch and asked for this police officer by name.<br />

When she first showed up, I was relieved. Then I saw the four black and whites trailing<br />

in behind her. My heart was in my throat and my stomach at the same time. Why were<br />

there four additional cars? This was not a domestic violence call. No one was being<br />

threatened. I hadn’t called 911.<br />

The first officer got out of her car and said to the other officers, “It’s OK, I don’t need<br />

you.” But they didn’t leave. They were already walking toward us as they began putting<br />

their gloves on. I knew what that meant. Somebody was going to jail today.<br />

They grabbed Toni first, and she struggled, she is a big girl and she didn’t want to go to<br />

jail, but she had not done anything for them to take her, so of course she was asking why<br />

were they trying to arrest her?<br />

Well, I’m a mother, and that is my daughter, and they just walked up and put their<br />

hands on her, so I did move over to them to try to keep them from taking her, but I was<br />

trying to talk to them too. I just wanted them to talk to us, but it was like they already<br />

knew before they got there that they were taking us to jail. So the one officer grabbed<br />

my arm and twisted it behind my back, and because I had a mastectomy, that was really<br />

painful. He slammed me into my neighbor’s truck, and he threw me so hard it actually<br />

did damage to the truck. He said in his police report that I caused injury to his arm.<br />

Shoot. I didn’t hurt him.<br />

They charged me with three counts: Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury; Resisting<br />

Law Enforcement; and Disorderly Conduct. I had a bench trial, and I was found NOT<br />

GUILTY on all three counts.<br />

That judge knew what it was. Thank God he is a good man, and cares about doing<br />

what is right. But what if he wasn’t?<br />

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The Anger is Mine<br />

Richard McKinney’s story by Tom Steiner.<br />

Richard is 48 years old.<br />

I didn’t start out hating Islam. I grew into it. It was an anger that lived and fed off of itself<br />

throughout my life. As my life unfolded, my anger flourished and dominated my life.<br />

Anger got me an early discharge from the Marines. Anger garnered me a diagnoses<br />

of PTSD that ended my military career. Ager led me to a failed attempt at professional<br />

fighting. Anger fueled many confrontations and ended a career as guard at a local<br />

prison. Anger was three wives and lots of trouble with the law. Anger was the seed of<br />

my hatred.<br />

As anger evolved into hatred it became as vital an organ as my heart. I was afraid to let<br />

it go for fear it was the only thing keeping me alive. It is what got me up in the morning.<br />

Hatred dictated my every thought. Anger slowly eroded every other emotion until<br />

hatred was all I had left.<br />

Hatred led me to a 55 gallon drum half filled with gas, half filled with oil, and two<br />

burner phones for detonation. I had it all planned out. I was going to place it behind the<br />

back stairs of the Islamic Center and set it off on a Friday during the Jumu’ah when the<br />

place would be full. I would be parked across the street watching it all happen.<br />

Nobody knew anything about my plans. This was going to be my statement and my<br />

statement only. I knew I would be caught and that did not bother me. The bombing just<br />

seemed that easy to do. I had learned a long time ago that it is easier to take a life when<br />

you have no feelings for that person except anger and hatred.<br />

The news probably would have blamed PTSD for my actions. However, those who<br />

know, PTSD is triggered. PTSD is usually a spontaneous reaction. Bombing the center<br />

was not just a thought on Monday and put into action on Friday. It was a plan that I had<br />

been working on for several months. I put a lot of thought into it because I wanted to<br />

do it right.<br />

So, what stopped me?<br />

My daughter was in grade school. She came home one day and told me about a<br />

schoolmate of hers whose mother came to pick him up. She was wearing a burka and<br />

hijab. I went off. I did not want my daughter around “those people.” She just looked at<br />

me like I was crazy. She could not understand why I was so upset. And the light bulb<br />

went off.<br />

Hey, listen, you are screwing this girl’s life up. This is how prejudice gets passed on.<br />

It was a moment of lucidity that I had not experienced before. But I had no idea what<br />

to do next.<br />

Like most Americans, everything I knew about Islam was based on the news, TV, and<br />

the military. And then I did something I never thought I would do.<br />

On a Friday, I walked into the Islamic Center and asked them to teach me what they<br />

think and feel Islam is. I was given some brochures and sat in the back reading them.<br />

Still in the grips of hatred, my first impression was that these brochures were nothing<br />

but propaganda.<br />

I did not want to believe what I was reading. I wanted it to be lies. I wanted to see that<br />

these people condoned murder and torture. I needed to see the uncaring of humanity.<br />

At one point in the evening, I realized that all this had nothing to do with racism. It was<br />

xenophobia. I was in a room full of Arabs and my only thoughts were of a picture of<br />

me on CNN with a sword through my throat. How stupid was that? This is Midwest<br />

America. Nothing like that happens here.<br />

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64<br />

But the real change came when I was handed a Quran and told to read it. Open my mind<br />

and just read it. That same night, a member sat at my feet professing his love of Islam. Maybe<br />

there is something to this was all I could think of. Within a month and a half of planning to<br />

blow up the Mosque, I was ready to convert. And I did. This was it, I needed to be a Muslim.<br />

It suddenly felt like I could breath. It all made sense to me.<br />

What compels me the most about my journey is all the hatred and anger that had been<br />

festering in my body for so long has been replaced by twice as much love.<br />

My life is changed. My family now stands beside me as Muslims and I have made it my life’s<br />

work to help change the world I live in. My conversion has propelled me into a life of activism.<br />

My future is to teach and try to change hatred and not just for Islam. There is hatred for so<br />

much and there is no real reason for such hatred. In my opinion, hate stems from ignorance.<br />

Everyone at the Mosque now knows about my plans to bomb the Islamic Center. Muslims<br />

in this community feel safe here and the shock of thinking something like that could happen<br />

in Muncie was hard to believe. Though it took several months for me to tell them, I wanted<br />

them to know what Islam has done for me. I want people to know they can change. No matter<br />

how much hatred you have in your soul, you can change. It happened to me.


Hospitality<br />

Mina Samaan’s story by Josh Holowell<br />

Mina is 28 years old.<br />

Everything was quiet. Everything. And this is not how it is in Egypt. Egypt is crowded<br />

and loud. But on that day, as I walked home from school, something was different.<br />

I entered my house and my whole family was gathered around the television. My mom<br />

turned to me and said, “America has been hit.” Then she turned back to the television<br />

as my whole family watched the news of airplanes being flown into buildings. My heart<br />

dropped. The place I had dreamed of going to for so long had been attacked and my<br />

heart hurt deeply for the world and for America.<br />

I eventually made it to America, and I have to relive the events of 9/11 over and over again.<br />

As a person who is from the Middle East, I have experienced discrimination. I have<br />

been assumed to be a terrorist. I have been treated as though I am already guilty and I<br />

have been told to go back where I came from. People assume I have malice in my heart<br />

toward them and that I am some sort of ticking time bomb waiting to attack them.<br />

I even had a co-worker invite me to go with him to a shooting range, yet he felt the<br />

need to ask me on our way there if I was going to shoot him.<br />

You know, people often say they are nervous seeing Middle Eastern people in the<br />

airport or on their flight. I can guarantee you that the most nervous people in an airport<br />

are Middle Eastern people. Every time a ”random” security check happens, I am forced<br />

to stand in front of everyone to be patted down while my stuff is strewn all over the<br />

floor. I have to answer extra questions. I have to explain what my camera is and what my<br />

cell phone is. Did I pay any less than the other customers? Am I somehow less human?<br />

It strips away my dignity.<br />

But I’m told that it’s ok to racially profile people from the Middle East.<br />

“You just don’t understand. If you knew what we experienced on 9/11, you would<br />

understand. We have to be careful now.”<br />

What?<br />

Am I not human?<br />

Was I not affected by that dreadful day?<br />

The place I had longed to go to—and now call home—was attacked on that day. I<br />

felt pain in light of the suffering. For the lives lost, I felt pain. For the freedom that was<br />

attacked, I felt pain. And yet now I am forced to relive that pain, simply because I am<br />

from the Middle East.<br />

It is ironic, but the very reason I am here in the US is the hope for a place that is free<br />

from unfair discrimination. I fled Egypt because I faced persecution and discrimination<br />

as a Christian. I could not worship freely and feared for my life daily. I was hated for<br />

simply being a Christian. And because of that I fled to a place where I could openly<br />

practice my religion—America. What I was shocked to find was that, although I no<br />

longer faced religious discrimination, I now faced racial discrimination.<br />

So why do I stay here? I can remember the exact moment down to the minute I landed<br />

in America. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I came to have a better life. To<br />

worship without the fear of death. And though there is this struggle with racism, I stay<br />

because of the people who have embraced me.<br />

When I first landed in New Jersey I had no one. I had to struggle to make a living<br />

and work extra hard to make it in a tough place. But then I met a college student named<br />

John. John changed everything about my life in America. John was living in New Jersey<br />

for the summer as part of a mission trip with a college group. I met John in July and he<br />

left after just a few weeks, but he showed me such hospitality.<br />

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In January of the following year, John called me and let me know that he was coming back<br />

for another summer in New Jersey. But after that summer he wanted me to come back with<br />

him to Muncie, Indiana. He had asked his roommates if I could come and live with them.<br />

What?<br />

Still to this day I am shocked by John’s hospitality. This white man from Indiana inviting a<br />

Middle Eastern man he hardly knew not just to come visit but to come and live with him and<br />

be a part of his community and church. How? He was motivated by Jesus’ love for him and<br />

showed that love to me. The world desperately needs a lot more of the Jesus that I saw in John.<br />

Many people in Muncie and my church community have embraced me and loved me. And<br />

even though John is gone I have decided to stay here. It has become my home because of those<br />

who have loved me. Those who have embraced me with the hospitality that John did.<br />

We need more of the hospitality of Jesus in our world.


Living in My Neighborhood<br />

Lynn’s story by Chris Bavender<br />

Lynn is a pseudonym and she is 29 years old.<br />

My story isn’t one of overt racism, but more about racial relationships and what I’ve learned<br />

being the minority in my own little neighborhood. I am white and live in a predominantly<br />

African American neighborhood in Muncie called Industry.<br />

I have learned one thing living here – children are a great means to “safely” voice racial issues.<br />

My husband, Patrick, and I have seen this come up time and time again. When we first moved<br />

here and began to meet our neighbors, Joan was 9-months-old. She was a shy baby and really<br />

only liked for Patrick or I to hold her.<br />

When our African American friends held her she would cry and reach for me – the same<br />

thing she did when close family members tried to hold her. The response was always the same<br />

– “She is afraid of black people.” Or, “She doesn’t like black people.”<br />

People typically laugh when they say this or even tell me they are just joking. I would have<br />

accepted it as a joke, however, if it had happened once or twice. But it’s happened over and<br />

over and over again.<br />

When Joan was a little older, around 2 ½, it happened again. We were at a park and ran<br />

into some teenagers we are friends with through our church who were there with their little<br />

cousins. Joan continues to be a shy child and when the little girls asked if she wanted to play,<br />

she said “No.” So this teenager who has been friends with us for a few years said, “She doesn’t<br />

like black people.” But, as always, followed up with, “I’m just kidding.”<br />

It just makes me wonder that if it isn’t anything more than just jabbing and joking, what is<br />

it? A baby can’t respond back so maybe it’s just the ability for people to speak aloud doubts<br />

and fears without worry of repercussions. Or maybe a way to voice something offensive to<br />

someone who can’t be offended.<br />

But, just like any comment someone makes about your child, you feel it reflects back on<br />

you. It’s like hearing an adult say, “Wow, that kid is really bratty.” You know what it implies –<br />

you don’t discipline well, or aren’t home enough, or just in general are not a very good parent.<br />

So hearing this comment about my child not liking someone because of the color of their<br />

skin makes me wonder if it’s actually a question of our acceptance of black people. A question<br />

of whether we have taught our daughter, through our own actions, to be comfortable and<br />

loving toward people of all races, or only those who look like us?<br />

I hope I’m teaching my children – Joan, who is now 4, and Lynnae – that all people are made<br />

in the image of God and should be treated as such. I hope to teach them the difference between<br />

races and culture are something to be appreciated and not feared or looked down upon. I want<br />

them to see with their own eyes that racism still exists today, so they can be part of the solution.<br />

Living in my neighborhood has also opened my eyes to other things, including what I<br />

consider police brutality.<br />

I still remember last summer when a house just a few down from us was raided. If you haven’t<br />

ever seen a raid, here’s what happens: the police in all their SWAT gear, including masks<br />

covering their faces and huge automatic weapons drawn, fly up, jump out of their vehicle and<br />

throw a flash bomb.<br />

Patrick was home when this happened and he dropped to the floor, hands over his head and<br />

called 911 – that’s how powerful a flash bomb is!<br />

We’re good friends with the family who lives next door to the house that was raided and<br />

they were outside when it happened. Although they had nothing to do with it, they were<br />

treated like criminals. When the police threw the flash bomb their 4-year-old took off running.<br />

When his mother and brother tried to go after him, they were screamed at by police to “shut<br />

up” and told not to move – and had the automatic weapons pointed at them.<br />

When describing what happened, the older brother said, “They had their red dot on me. I<br />

think they actually would have killed me.”<br />

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His sisters, who are in elementary school, were yelled at to lay on the ground with their hands<br />

behind their heads. The teenage daughter was told the same thing but she said she must not have<br />

moved fast enough because he shoved her onto the sidewalk with his knee in her back.<br />

She was forced to lay there next to the men who were being arrested.<br />

What made it even worse - none of the officers followed the 4-year-old. So he crossed several<br />

streets by himself and was eventually brought home by a couple who didn’t even know him.<br />

This family was so shaken up. When the mother reported all of this to the police department,<br />

she was told “protocol” was followed.<br />

I’m sorry but if a drug bust was happening in a rich, white neighborhood, I guarantee this is<br />

NOT how they would’ve treated innocent neighbors.<br />

There was another time that same summer I was outside with my kids and a different<br />

neighbor’s kids were over playing on the swing set. All of a sudden police cars flew up and<br />

men with guns drawn ran up to the neighbor’s house. They put the father on the floor with<br />

guns to his head. One of the sons who was in our back yard took off running yelling at them<br />

to leave his father alone.<br />

I picked them up and carried them into my house. The older boy was kicking and screaming.<br />

The younger boy was crying and asking what they were doing to his dad. Maybe five minutes<br />

later, the police were gone.<br />

Their mother came over and said there’d been a report the father had a gun. He didn’t so<br />

the police left. Those poor kids were traumatized for no reason. They saw their father in this<br />

position for no reason. There was no apology or talking to the kids to ease their fear.<br />

Nothing.<br />

I think the biggest lesson this has taught me is that racism is still alive and well today. People<br />

still experience life differently, are still treated differently based on the color of their skin.<br />

There are the black schools and the white schools. The black churches and the white<br />

churches. Black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods.<br />

I think racism and segregation were implemented very purposefully and it will take<br />

purposeful actions to end these things. Purposefully moving into a neighborhood where you<br />

are a minority. Purposefully enrolling your children in a school where not everyone looks the<br />

same as them. Educating yourself on the issues such as present day systemic racism and mass<br />

incarceration, etc.<br />

I have to say I could never go back to living in an all-white neighborhood because now I know<br />

what I was missing out on. I am part of a very diverse church family and have cross-cultural<br />

friendships. Just coming to love and be loved across race lines has impacted my life greatly.


Ok I’ll do it<br />

June Payne’s story by Travis O. Graves<br />

June is 68 years old.<br />

There were black people and there were white people. As a child I didn’t really have a<br />

thought either way about race or racism. Looking back, I’ve only been able to speculate<br />

why; why the white family my father worked for sent Christmas presents to us, why<br />

I had to stay in the kitchen when I came along to help my parents cater white people’s<br />

parties, why my brother the valedictorian of his class had to take second place to the<br />

white student in a speech and debate competition he had won, why I had to be one of<br />

the first black students to integrate the Charlottesville High School, why my skin color<br />

mattered, why my skin color was the “bad” skin color?<br />

I was the youngest of four. My oldest siblings went to all black schools. By the time I<br />

came around, the Supreme Courts decision to enforce school integration meant that in<br />

Charlottesville, Virginia, whites would passively comply by sending a few guinea pigs<br />

into the white high school. The top ten black elementary students were asked to go to<br />

the white school. Two families opted out thinking the added pressure would negatively<br />

effect their children. My father left the decision in my hands with a simple, “I think<br />

you’ll get a better education.” So I said, “Ok, I’ll do it”.<br />

He believed that white schools would prepare me better, and in many ways he was<br />

right. The white schools had better facilities and better books. Single exposed light bulbs<br />

had dimly lit the halls of my elementary school where we used hand-me-down books<br />

that were tattered and outdated. Separate but equal was anything but equal. But I didn’t<br />

know just how much courage I was going to have to come up with. For my dad, fear<br />

was not an option. That stoicism that he had, that’s what I tried to portray. Though I<br />

didn’t feel it all the time, I thought: “I can be strong, I can handle this, and I can handle<br />

it especially if you say I can handle it.”<br />

I didn’t realize just how hard it would be, and, the truth is, my first year of high<br />

school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.<br />

The fall of 1961 was the start of my mission so to speak. I kind of felt like this is<br />

what I have to do in life, and that is, in some way, try to make a difference in how I’m<br />

perceived. Not only me but all black people. That we’re not dumb like you think we are,<br />

we’re not dirty like you think we are. That became the cross I had to bear. I had to hoist<br />

that thing up on my back and carry it with little or no emotion. For five years, grade 8<br />

through 12, that’s the cross I was carrying.<br />

That first day of school, I’ll never forget. My uncle Roy dropped me off about a<br />

quarter-mile away from the school. I would have to walk the rest of the way. Getting<br />

out of the car that day it hit me: I was alone. Where were the other black students I<br />

went to elementary school with? Where were my friends? Where is my best buddy<br />

Kenneth? I took an unusually long walk to the high school that day, making the largest<br />

loop around downtown until finally coming to the school. But when I got there another<br />

realization hit me. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Unlike the white students<br />

who got their schedules months before school started, the black students were given<br />

nothing, somebody just found us and said “Oh you need to go there.” I didn’t even<br />

know what door to go in.<br />

Finally I found an open side door which I slipped in and made my way down the hall<br />

where I first encountered a daunting group of boy’s who, on spotting me, shouted out,<br />

“I smell a gar, I smell a gar!” In my innocence, I thought they had picked up the smell<br />

of my Uncle Roy’s cigar and I was horrified. All I could think was, “Oh no, I smell<br />

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like cigar smoke and it’s on my clothes, I can’t get that cigar smell off me, that’s what they’re<br />

smelling.” They kept howling, “I smell a gar, I smell a gar.” “What a Ci-Gar?” one of the boys<br />

asked, “No, a, Ni….gar!” another replied bringing the joke to it’s triumphant end amid cheers<br />

and laughter. That was the first time I can ever recall hearing that word. And how did I handle<br />

that? I said under my breath. “Oh thank God, they don’t smell uncle Roy’s cigar.” I was so<br />

thankful they didn’t smell that smelly cigar smoke. I knew they were talking about me, but<br />

that word had no significant impact on me.<br />

I soon came to find out, that I would be segregated in another way. That first year I had no<br />

classes with other black students, and my lunch period was different from theirs as well. I was<br />

in a totally different place, and that first year I had to face my hardships alone. I felt invisible<br />

and I wanted to be invisible. No white students ever once spoke to me, unless it was to bark in<br />

my face, “What are you looking at!” or to harass me with the N-word.<br />

Whereas in my last year at my all black elementary school, I was learning algebra, at my<br />

new school I was treated completely ignorant and was put back in classes being taught how<br />

to add and subtract with some of the dumbest people you ever want to meet. Eventually the<br />

gym teacher (who taught the remedial students math) told someone that I didn’t belong there,<br />

and I was moved up to a more appropriate level. I had an English teacher who had me get up<br />

in front of the class and speak so the white students could hear the difference between the way<br />

black and white people talk. And when white students would throw our books out the third<br />

story windows, we had to go get them. The white students were never, at least not in public,<br />

reprimanded for any mistreatment or abuse of black students.<br />

When Richard walked right through me in the hallway, knocking me flat on my back and<br />

cracking my head against the floor, nobody helped me up or said anything. I got turned away<br />

by the principals secretary with: “He doesn’t have time to see every student, he’s busy.” But it<br />

was the lunch period that was the worst part of the day. I hated it when they served peas. The<br />

boys would spit them through their straws at me. Every day I sat invisible and ate my lunch<br />

across from a girl who would try to find my shins and kick the hell out of me, to the point<br />

I would have bruises. I was too afraid to do anything about it. I didn’t want to start a fight<br />

surrounded by white people. If I did that, I knew I’d be dead.<br />

Walking home always included outrunning and maneuvering Richard Meeks who would<br />

chase the black kids with his car. I’m convinced to this day if we had not run he would have<br />

hit us, and it would have somehow been our fault. And then when the school bus passed full<br />

of white students, they would throw all their nickels at us from the bus windows.<br />

I had to fight back so many tears. “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry” became a mantra of sorts.<br />

I didn’t want anyone to know how much pain I was in, how scared and sad I was.<br />

Under the weight of my father’s honor, and the weight of the discrimination facing all black<br />

people, I had to keep moving forward through school instead of retreating like I wanted to<br />

back to the all black high school. That was my cross to bear and I chose to bear it. That pain<br />

I endured helped bring about integration of schools. I know there are still prejudices and<br />

injustices in this world. There are still crosses to bear and people are saying, like I did to my<br />

father, “Ok, I’ll do it.”


It Shouldn’t Matter<br />

WaTasha Barnes Griffin’s story by Seth Carrier-Ladd<br />

Tasha is 41 years old.<br />

“Madeline, what ‘choo doin?” That was the moment everything changed.<br />

Madeline was my best friend. We’d known each other since we met in kindergarten,<br />

delighted when we figured out that we lived across the street from each other. We<br />

noticed, of course, that our skin was a different color – Madeline’s white, mine black<br />

– but that didn’t matter to me, and it didn’t matter to her. I mean we noticed, right?<br />

After we became friends, we asked, “Can I touch your skin and see if it feels different?”<br />

Which it didn’t really. And of course, “Can I touch your hair?” Which did actually feel<br />

different. But outside of those natural curiosities that any kid of that age has, we pretty<br />

much just played.<br />

Now I didn’t play with Madeline all of the time. Our street was the dividing line. So<br />

I always had to choose – out the front door to the white neighborhood, or out the back<br />

door to the black. Two doors in one house, in my house, each door leading to a totally<br />

different kind of place. I liked both – safe and at home with my black friends out back,<br />

different and interesting white friends out front.<br />

My black friends didn’t understand. “Why you wanna’ hang out with the white<br />

kids?” they would ask. “Madeline’s my friend,” I would respond, and leave it at that. My<br />

grandmother, she’d have white friends over for dinner every so often, and our pastor, he<br />

talked all the time at church about how important it was to have friends of every color.<br />

And we went to the same school as all these white kids. So their questions didn’t even<br />

make sense to me. Of course I wanted to hang out with Madeline. She was my friend. I<br />

didn’t get it.<br />

Truthfully, the difference I noticed more between me and Madeline was about class.<br />

Madeline’s folks were poor as could be, despite living on the white side of the street.<br />

And while we weren’t “well off” at my grandmother’s house, we always had enough, we<br />

always had everything we needed, and we certainly had more than enough love.<br />

You could see the difference just looking at our two houses. Plunked down between<br />

two more well-kept houses, a green one on one side, and a yellow one on the other,<br />

Madeline’s dark gray-colored house looked worn. It had a light gray picket fence<br />

around its front yard, with the paint flaking and chipped off in places, and the yard was<br />

all dirt. No grass in Madeline’s front yard, just dirt. Dirt, and two green metal chairs,<br />

that rocked a bit when you sat in them. And the front porch – can’t forget that porch.<br />

Covered in junk, end-to-end, from who knows where.<br />

Our house on the other hand, was proud. Two-stories of brick, with a well-kept front<br />

yard, nice pine shrubs on either side of front steps, pillars on the front porch, and of<br />

course a few pieces of nice patio furniture. The class difference showed in other ways<br />

too. The way we dressed, for example – my clothes were usually in better shape. Now,<br />

we didn’t care, we played in Madeline’s dirt front yard with the green chairs just as often<br />

if not more than we played on the nice front porch at my grandmother’s house, and we<br />

didn’t talk about clothes. But we noticed, or at least I did.<br />

Sometimes I would ask my mama, “Mom, you know those shoes that I don’t wear<br />

anymore? Can I give them to Madeline… she really needs some shoes.” It only made<br />

sense, Madeline was my friend, and she needed stuff, and I had stuff that I wasn’t using.<br />

And so we continued merrily on our way. It wasn’t perfect. No friendship ever is. We<br />

had our little fights and disagreements, but never about the color of our skin. And we<br />

always worked it out. Kindergarten through fourth grade was pretty great. And then<br />

one day everything changed.<br />

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It was a nice sunny day. We were sitting out in Madeline’s dirt front yard, near those green<br />

metal chairs, that peeling gray picket fence. We were sitting there playing with dolls – white baby<br />

dolls. Two little girls playing, not a care in the world, and then some white man I didn’t know, a<br />

friend of the neighbors in the yellow house, he shouted out,“Madeline, what ‘choo doin?”<br />

“Just playin’.”<br />

“Why you playin’ with a nigger?”<br />

“This isn’t a nigger, this is Tasha.”<br />

Looking back, I’m glad that white man didn’t push it any further. He just walked away, and<br />

Madeline asked, “What’s a nigger?”<br />

“He’s talking about black people.”<br />

And we left it at that.<br />

Now I don’t know if Madeline talked to her parents, but I talked to my mom as soon as I<br />

got home, and told her what happened. “It made me feel bad mom. It hurt my feelings.”<br />

“Oh honey. Some people are just like that. Some people see color instead of seeing people for<br />

who they really are. In our family, we treat people they we want to be treated – with kindness,<br />

love and respect. You’re beautiful. You’re smart. You’re intelligent. You’re my Tasha.”<br />

“But sometimes other black people call each other nigger… why do they do that?”<br />

“They shouldn’t do it honey. No one should ever call each other by that name.”<br />

What she didn’t say to me then was as important as what she did. She didn’t tell me “No<br />

more going back over there to play with Madeline.” She never said, “You stay away from the<br />

white side of the street.” She just explained and supported. And so the next day, back I went,<br />

to play dolls again with my best friend.<br />

I’ve never forgotten though. Before, I knew about black and white. After, black and white<br />

meant BLACK and WHITE.<br />

The thing is – I’ve never really changed. I’ve experienced my fair share of racism, so much<br />

so in fact that I usually just tune out the consistent, regular, repetitive low-level stuff. But the<br />

color of a person’s skin still doesn’t matter to me. I see it, I know it makes a difference, I talk<br />

to my two black children about how America treats them differently as a black person because<br />

I have to…but when I meet people, skin color is one of the last things I notice. Just like with<br />

Madeline, I see people, I see human beings, I see my friends.<br />

Skin color shouldn’t matter. That’s the way it should be. We have to keep putting in the<br />

work to make it so.


The New Racism<br />

Mia Johnson’s story by Andrea Wolfe<br />

Mia is 36 years old.<br />

About a year and a half ago, a colleague of mine at Ivy Tech Community College and<br />

I were working remotely with an Ivy Tech employee from another region. We were to<br />

meet this other woman at a conference for community college honors students that we<br />

planned to attend together. My colleague—an older, white woman—was struggling to<br />

remember how to pronounce this other employee’s name. She must have assumed that it<br />

was a “black name,” as she approached me for help at the conference a few hours before<br />

our meeting with the woman we had been working with. Students swarming around us,<br />

my colleague asked, “How do you say her name again?”<br />

“Chavonne,” I answered.<br />

My colleague grimaced and sighed. “You girls and your names,” she remarked as she<br />

continued walking through the convention center corridor to our next session.<br />

I stopped moving. My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open a little bit. There<br />

were so many things wrong with what she had just said; I wasn’t even sure where to<br />

begin. First of all, I recognized that I had just been held responsible for the naming<br />

practices of the entire black American population, notwithstanding the fact that I was<br />

actually named after the white actress, Mia Farrow. Moreover, hearkening back to a<br />

long history of white people referring to black adults as children in order to position<br />

themselves as superior, my colleague’s comment revealed that she categorized me, then<br />

a 34-year-old college professor, as well as every other black woman in the world, as a<br />

“girl.” She had also insinuated that the names that some black parents chose for their<br />

children were singularly designed to complicate the lives of white people with “normal”<br />

names. How was it possible that this educated woman could so determinedly miss<br />

the point that non-European names might represent resistance to centuries of white<br />

imperialism, oppression, and violence?<br />

I wanted to tell my colleague all about herself, but I knew that I couldn’t get upset.<br />

I didn’t want to cause an argument in front of the students and colleagues around us.<br />

Also, I recalled past instances of being accused of yelling when only speaking clearly<br />

about issues I was passionate about. I knew that I couldn’t be too loud or too insistent<br />

on being heard. So, I didn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to be “the angry black woman.”<br />

Another time, my colleague was talking about finding out that her daughter was going<br />

to marry a black man. She tried to joke with me, “I guess now I’ll have to start listening<br />

to your kind of music.”<br />

Like last time, I felt struck by her comment. Again, she was suggesting that I,<br />

personally, was answerable for or somehow innately loyal to that which she perceived<br />

as an inherent aspect of African American life—in this case, “black music.” Never<br />

mind that I may like country music! I don’t, but I certainly could. Her comment also<br />

demonstrated her assumption that black Americans produce only one kind of music<br />

and insinuated that this kind of music was abnormal and just a nuisance in the lives of<br />

white people. Furthermore, she failed to understand the social function of rap and hiphop,<br />

the important role that these types of music have played in black artistic expression<br />

and articulation of systemic forms of oppression in black people’s lives.<br />

But, again, I held myself back from saying what I wanted to say. I began to realize,<br />

though, that my sense of personal responsibility for disproving the stereotype of “the<br />

angry black woman”—as well as the additional stereotypes that I perceive others as<br />

using to judge me in other areas of my life, such as “the black thief” when I was shopping<br />

at Target and “the single black mother on welfare” when I am alone with my children<br />

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in public—was beginning to feel very heavy. I know that I don’t face the kinds of overt racism<br />

that people in the past faced. The racism that I experience takes the form of microaggressions.<br />

This is the new racism. It is sneakier and, because it propagated by people who pretend to be<br />

my friends, it is sometimes harder to directly contend with.<br />

After the two incidents with my colleague, I talked to a friend about what had happened.<br />

He actually helped me to see racism a little differently than I had before, mentioning that there<br />

are multiple levels of racism and that one level of racism is simple ignorance. The colleague<br />

who had insulted me on these occasions, he suggested, perhaps might not have known that<br />

she was using stereotypes or that her sentiments about naming practices and rap and hip-hip<br />

were offensive. He proposed that an honest conversation with my colleague might allow me to<br />

express how she had hurt me and ultimately even help her to develop more appropriate ways<br />

of discussing race.<br />

Maybe I should take the initiative to educate my colleague, but I haven’t done this. I don’t<br />

like the idea that it is my responsibility to correct her wrongs. I now just try to avoid her. I<br />

simply don’t have anything to say to her. I might be willing to forgive one faux pas, but two is<br />

too many.


I Was Mad, Real Mad<br />

Rashid Shabazz’s story by River Lin<br />

Rashid is 73 years old.<br />

Mad. Real mad. That’s how I feel about racism.<br />

I’ve been facing racism since the day I was born. Since I was a baby, every day, racism<br />

was just a part of life. Bad, unfair things happen to you over and over again and it makes<br />

you mad. Real mad.<br />

One time I was at the fair trying to win a Teddy Bear for a little baby. Down to my<br />

last quarter and the man in the booth told me, “You get the best 2 out of 3 and you can<br />

have any Teddy Bear you want.” I said, “OK, I can do that.” I got the first one, missed<br />

the second one, and then I got the third one.<br />

That man said no. He said I had to get the first 2 out of 3.”<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

We argued. Klansmen came around the corner. Crowbars, chains, sledgehammers. All<br />

this over a Teddy Bear. Can you believe that? I was thinking how to jump them all: One<br />

foot on this guy, another foot on that guy, one hand here, my other hand there.<br />

Then 10 black men from the community came. One of them said to me, “What’s happenin’<br />

Lil’ Ticket?” Yeah, he called me “Lil’ Ticket.” Then he said to the clansmen, “What you<br />

gonna do with them toys you got?” I liked it that he called them weapons “toys.”<br />

But I was mad. Real mad.<br />

Another time, the Klan set up a table to recruit for new members. Teaching hate.<br />

Recruiting so they can do more harm to us.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

We had a confrontation, and one of those guys had a gun. You can’t bring no gun to<br />

the fair! And there were all these little kids standing around! Everyone started yelling,<br />

“He got a gun! He got a gun!” The police, sheriff, all them came running. That man<br />

started shaking, just shaking. I thought he might shoot himself in the leg the way he was<br />

shaking.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

I was one of the greatest basketball players in the country. In the world, really. But<br />

racism dogged me so much. By the time I got to high school, I didn’t want it no more.<br />

I was just mad. Real mad.<br />

But I was a good player, so they wanted me to be a Bear Cat. I said no, but they got<br />

me. See, we had a race riot in the high school and I was right there in the middle of it.<br />

Then they gave me an ultimatum: play ball or get kicked out of school.<br />

Oh, no, no. I couldn’t face my mother if I got kicked out of school. So I signed up.<br />

But I was mad. Real mad.<br />

In practice I could out-run, out-jump and out-shoot those guys, but in the games,<br />

they got all the playtime.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

Then tournament time came. When we got to the sectionals, we had to play two<br />

games in one day, and those white guys, they weren’t up to it, so they had to put me in<br />

the game.<br />

And I got down!<br />

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But you know what? After that, they had to be careful with me because they didn’t want a black<br />

hero. No, they’d rather lose with a white hero than to win with a black hero.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

And another thing: they only like you when you on the court. During the season, they treat<br />

you real good, but after that, they dog you. I went from a thousand people calling out my<br />

name and cheering me, to can’t even go across the street and have a Coca-Cola or an ice cream<br />

cone with them.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

When I was a senior, the team was on the road, and you know, like teams do, there was some<br />

hazing. I didn’t do no hazing, but I know who did it. And nothing happened to those white<br />

players who did it. But all four of us black players got kicked off the team for hazing. It was<br />

my last year and I was nominated to be Mr. Basketball. That was the real threat; they didn’t<br />

want me to be Mr. Basketball.<br />

We didn’t do no hazing, but we got kicked off the team. I know they just couldn’t have a<br />

black Mr. Basketball from Muncie. No title. No scholarships.<br />

I was mad. Real mad.<br />

My anger took me down.<br />

Anger raging inside, my heart was looking for something better.<br />

Religion gave me a white Jesus.<br />

Elijah Mohammed established the Nation of Islam. He preached that the white man was the<br />

devil. Seeing how the white man acted, I heard him. I was ready to listen.<br />

My wife had cancer and she passed. The doctors said my baby had it too, and that he needed<br />

surgery. I didn’t trust them. I read a book by Elijah Mohammed: How to Eat to Live, and it<br />

gave me an alternative.<br />

I believed.<br />

I was playing professional basketball by then, but I gave that up so I could care for my son.<br />

I got remarried and my wife and I read the Quran to my son every day. Every day. He never<br />

had the surgery. He’s a grown man now. Healthy. Smart. I’m proud of him.<br />

I believed.<br />

Elijah Mohammed made black people look at ourselves. He prepared us for Islam. After he<br />

died, his son, Imam W. Deen Mohammad, took over as the leader of the Nation of Islam. He<br />

preached from the Quran. He preached that there is no superiority among humans, not white<br />

over black, and not black over white; not Arab over non-Arab, nor non-Arab over Arab. I<br />

became a Muslim.<br />

I believed.<br />

Racism is still here. It looks different from how it used to look, but inside, it’s still racism.<br />

And sometimes, I’m still mad. Real mad.<br />

But today, I’m different because I believe. Oh yes, I believe.<br />

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Learning From Our Children<br />

Shalia Gupta’s story by Clarissa Bowers<br />

Shalia is 80 years old.<br />

When I was a child growing up in India, I was taught that when an adult came to your<br />

door, you welcomed them in and offered them a seat. It was a sign of respect.<br />

At age seven, a man came to the door and I welcomed him in just as I had been taught.<br />

When my father entered the room, the man immediately rose to his feet to greet my<br />

father. As I watched from the corner of the room, I couldn’t help but wonder why the<br />

man kept standing until my father asked him to be seated.<br />

In that moment, I had this twinge, this uncomfortable feeling deep inside me. I had<br />

asked someone from another walk of life, someone that I should have known was<br />

“different” in the eyes of my culture, to sit down in my family’s home. All at once, I felt<br />

the embarrassment that comes from the unknown. I didn’t know why it was wrong but<br />

I felt a deep rooted acknowledgment that there was a difference between the two of us,<br />

yet it was so undefined<br />

As I reflect on this and the way bias was formed in such an innocent mind; I realize that<br />

all biases whether it be social, class, cast, or race are learned behavior. Most importantly,<br />

I have realized that what is learned can be unlearned. We, as humans, are not as strong<br />

or complete as we would like to think, and by stopping our vulnerabilities from being<br />

shown, we let fear become a cancer that grows from within.<br />

One of my fondest childhood memories was learning to knit from our kind and<br />

loving neighbor, a Muslim woman.. As I was Hindu, I was not allowed to partake in<br />

their family meals but that did not stop her from welcoming me into her home. You<br />

see, India was and is a land of gentle and gracious people but in the late 1940’s partition<br />

tore through our country, Hindu-Muslim migration created dividing lines that were<br />

fueled by rage and hate. Helpless men became devils and blood saturated both India and<br />

Pakistan; but even throughout these trials, the bonds of friendship survived.<br />

When I was just 10 years old, I awoke one morning to see our neighbors gone. Despite<br />

the risks it posed to my family, I later came to know that my father had helped them to<br />

escape to safety when the risk became too great for them to stay in our neighborhood. In<br />

the darkest hours, people still helped each other because we were people, not because we<br />

were one religion or another. If in that moment we were able to erase bias, why should<br />

it be any different now, living in a country with hundreds of different nationalities and<br />

religions all poured into one? Somehow and somewhere racism finds and takes root<br />

here, but why?<br />

For me, I believe that racism or any discrimination grows because we are ignorant<br />

and we cocoon ourselves out of fear when we should instead be asking and educating.<br />

It is difficult for us as adults to break away from these cocoons but luckily we have the<br />

ultimate resource available to help us overcome. Children are the ultimate resource in<br />

combatting this ignorance.<br />

I have come to find that if I am at a grocery store, curiosity will always win over in<br />

an interaction with a child. If there is a toddler or a child standing with their mother or<br />

sitting on their lap, they will look at bindi—a decorative mark worn in the middle of<br />

the forehead by Indian women, and say “Do you have an ouchie?” or they will reach<br />

out to touch it. Children want to know. They want to learn, and I want to share. But,<br />

the embarrassments from parents who are conditioned to fear cultural embarrassment<br />

quickly stifle their child’s curiosity. In those moments, they are telling the child not to<br />

touch and not to ask and suddenly the child learns that for some reason, I am different.<br />

Years ago I discovered a beautiful quote that spoke to our need to grow outside of<br />

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our own comfort, it said, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” Sure, life<br />

is safe in your own little cocoon, never questioning your bias or getting out so you may be<br />

exposed to the world’s biases. But, that is not what this life is for. Life is meant to be lived, to<br />

be experienced, and to be shaped by it. As you grow, of course there are challenges. There will<br />

be rocks and hidden cliffs in your ship’s path, but you will learn to navigate and you will grow<br />

stronger because of it.<br />

When I first came to the United States, I was faced with one of the most curious experiences<br />

I had ever had with a child. While out in the common area of our university housing, a young<br />

girl asked me if I was a witch. I, of course, responded that I was not. She thought for a moment<br />

and then asked if I was a Queen. Again, I smiled and said no. Her final line of questioning<br />

asked if I was a fairy. As I said no for the final time, the child looked at me and ran away. It was<br />

as though she couldn’t see the similarities between her and I, so she assumed they did not exist.


What’s on the Menu?<br />

Deanna’s story by WaTasha Barnes Griffin<br />

Deanna is a pseudonym and she is in 7th grade.<br />

I live in a vibrant house full of color, compassion, tolerance, and acceptance. Many people<br />

in the community know that my parents are of different races, and that my siblings each have<br />

DNA’s that are blended with love. You want to know the race of my parents, don’t you?<br />

Okay, okay, my dad is Italian American and my mom is African. To some of you, that might<br />

seem strange, but to us it is nothing out of the ordinary.<br />

My mom and dad teach me to treat each and every one that I meet with kindness, even when<br />

I don’t think they deserve it. I have also been taught that not everyone will extend that same<br />

respect and kindness to me.<br />

One fall morning, I was sitting in my science class with my stomach growling louder than the<br />

teacher’s voice-signaling to me and all those within earshot, that lunchtime is on its way. Mind<br />

you that this is the last class prior to my lunch period. Although I am attentively listening to<br />

our teacher go on and on about ancient Rome, my mind is already thinking of what is on the<br />

lunch menu.<br />

Finally, the 11:20 a.m. bell rings to dismiss us from class and now it’s lunchtime! Time to<br />

quiet this beastly belly growl that I have going on, time to unwind and let down my hair, and<br />

yep, it is time to kick it and socialize with my friends!<br />

I get to the cafeteria and race through the hordes of kids to get to the tray line. I look at the<br />

menu and make my food selections. As I make my way back through the cafeteria, waving<br />

and saying “Hello” as I go, attempting to balance my lunch tray all at the same time, I notice<br />

that several of my friends have already beat me to “our” claimed lunch table. I join them<br />

and, before long, Allie, Mackenzie, Marie, and I are eating from a diverse group of foods<br />

and chatting away. Someone has hot Cheetos, snack cakes, and milk, another has a salad, one<br />

has Subway that was carried in by her mother, and I have the standard cafeteria selections,<br />

hooray!…Not. All four of our racial profiles are just as unique as our food choices, and yet we<br />

are the best of friends.<br />

My friend Allie, who is Caucasian, begins to talk about her relationship with her boyfriend,<br />

David, who is black. She says that her mother knows she is dating a black guy, but her dad does<br />

not. She states that if her dad knew that she was dating a black guy, he would be very upset<br />

with her, have a conniption fit, or disown her. So to avoid a big ol’ misunderstanding, she and<br />

her mother have decided to keep this little secret, named David, to themselves. Mackenzie,<br />

who is also Caucasian, shakes her head from side to side and says, “Really Allie? Now that you<br />

are mentioning it, I never understood how you could date David. I will never date a black guy<br />

because my religion states that the black and white races should not mix. The Bible says that<br />

whites are to date whites and blacks should only date blacks—we all should just date within<br />

our own color.”<br />

My mouth drops open in shock; luckily no flies are swarming around, gross right? I am<br />

flabbergasted by what I am hearing sitting at this lunch table in the school cafeteria. This<br />

conversation was definitely not on the lunch menu! I mean, really? My dear friend Mackenzie<br />

really thinks this way? Is she a racist? I am black, so is she only pretending to like me?<br />

There are so many thoughts running through my mind, disbelief being the main one. So I ask<br />

Mackenzie what her religion is and she replies, “I am of the Christian faith.” I respond by<br />

saying, “Mackenzie, I am of the Christian faith, too. Where in the Bible did you find scripture<br />

that’s says that blacks and whites should not date?” “Oh, I cannot remember exactly. My<br />

mother tells us that ’God didn’t intend for the black and white races to mix,’ all of the time.<br />

Heck, we can just Google it and see,” Mackenzie says with a giggle.<br />

I feel my fury begin to rise up inside of me, but I keep my cool on the surface. I think to<br />

myself, “Wow, all of those times I have spent hanging out with the Jones family, and I never<br />

knew Mrs. Jones was racist? What about Mackenzie’s dad? Wait, are they really racist?”<br />

78


80<br />

Of course I would never say any of this out loud. My parents and the R.A.C.E. Group that<br />

we attend have taught me, through dialogues and activities, to remain calm and not retaliate<br />

from a place of hate—but to think things through and then answer from a positive place. But<br />

right at this very minute, I cannot think of one politically correct thing to say. So I just sit there<br />

stunned, and say nothing. In fact several of us do.<br />

It feels like an eternity before someone speaks, but in all actuality, it is only about five<br />

seconds. The person who speaks up is hot-headed Marie, and she is not happy. You see, Marie<br />

has a black father and a white mother.<br />

“What the heck do you mean, Mackenzie? Are you telling us that I do not deserve to be born<br />

because you and your parents believe that my parents should not have fallen in love because their<br />

skin doesn’t match? What kind of religion would cause others to judge who belongs with who<br />

based on color? You can take your racist comments and get far away from me! I have known you<br />

for a very long time and I would never imagine that you would think this way! Better yet, I cannot<br />

believe that you let that stupidity come out of your mouth with a black chick, and a bi-racial chick<br />

sitting right here with you! Whites are not superior to other races, you know! Get for real! As a<br />

matter of fact, you stay your racist butt right here! I will leave!”<br />

And with that she stands up quickly and begins to gather her belongings. Allie and Mackenzie<br />

look at each other, and then at me, in horror.<br />

I try to think of a response I can offer to help defuse the situation, and I calmly say, “Okay<br />

guys, let’s all take a deep breath here. I know that this conversation is hard to handle, but we<br />

have been friends way too long to walk out of this lunch room without at least trying to work<br />

through what has just happened. It is okay for us to have our opinions but we need to do it in<br />

a respectful way.”<br />

Marie looks at Allie, Mackenzie, and then at me and says: “You all can do what you want,<br />

but I am just going to walk away.”<br />

And she did. But she didn’t just walk away, she raced out of the cafeteria, and she ran away<br />

from the conversation. She never got to hear what could have been one of the most enlightening<br />

conversations about teenagers and racism. She never got to hear Mackenzie say she was sorry<br />

for being offensive. She never got to hear Allie say that she will be honest with her father about<br />

her boyfriend, Dave, and she never got to hear me say that when I was little girl hearing the<br />

word “race” always made me think of a group of competitive people running really fast trying<br />

to beat each other, to claim the title of “winner.”<br />

She never got to hear me say, “And I guess until all races, young and old, are willing to come<br />

to the table to have the tough conversations about race, diversity, and stereotypes, and until<br />

we are willing to hear, learn and understand each other’s voices, “Race” will continue to be a<br />

competition. It will just keep being various groups of people trying to out run each other in an<br />

effort to claim the title that declares them or their race as “the winner.” We have come so far,<br />

yet we still have a ways to go. Why don’t all of us just run the race together?<br />

Let’s add that to the menu.


ABOUT OUR<br />

WRITERS & STORYTELLERS<br />

81


Our Writers…<br />

PAGE 83<br />

Lizz Alezetes<br />

Lenore Allen<br />

WaTasha Barnes Griffin<br />

Chris Bavender<br />

Sherri Beaty<br />

Lauren Bishop-Weidner<br />

Clarissa Bowers<br />

PAGE 84<br />

Michael Brockley<br />

Dr. Ruby Cain<br />

Rev. Seth Carrier-Ladd<br />

Jackson Eflin<br />

Travis Oliver Graves<br />

Anna Groover<br />

Josh Holowell<br />

PAGE 85<br />

Ari Hurwitz<br />

Angela Jackson-Brown<br />

J.R. Jamison<br />

Steve Knote<br />

River Lin<br />

Resa Matlock<br />

Beth Messner<br />

PAGE 86<br />

Melnda Messineo<br />

Barbara Miller<br />

Deborah Mix<br />

Andrea Powell Wolfe<br />

Christine Rhine<br />

Aimee Robertson-Fant<br />

Tom Steiner<br />

PAGE 87<br />

Kelsey Timmerman<br />

Levi Todd<br />

Maggie West<br />

Taylor Wicker<br />

Stephanie Winn<br />

Annemarie Voss<br />

Our Storytellers…<br />

PAGE 88<br />

Sam Abram<br />

Matt Bailey<br />

WaTasha Barnes Griffin<br />

Dr. Ruby Cain<br />

Tom Carey<br />

Cornelius Dollison<br />

PAGE 89<br />

Mary Dollison<br />

Jason Donati<br />

Dr. Karen A. Dowling<br />

Michael Timothy Duerson<br />

Heather Gilvary-Hamad<br />

Shalia Gupta<br />

Mia D. Johnson, PhD<br />

PAGE 90<br />

Lonna Jordan<br />

Fred Long<br />

Dr. Renae Mayes<br />

Richard McKinney<br />

Ella McNeary<br />

Vivian Morrison<br />

Dr. Charles R. Payne<br />

Dr. June Payne<br />

PAGE 91<br />

Jayla Scaife<br />

Mina Samaan<br />

Christine Satory<br />

Rashid Shabazz<br />

Daniel Stallings<br />

Tonikia Steans<br />

Muriel Weeden<br />

Maria Williams-Hawkins, PhD<br />

82


About Our Writers…<br />

Lizz Alezetes…teaches English to speakers of other languages in the Intensive English<br />

Institute at Ball State University. She spent five years teaching English in Saudi Arabia, which<br />

is where she met her husband and gave birth to her first child. She is now the proud mother of<br />

two children, Yusef and Yasmeen.<br />

LenoreIAllen…a newcomer to the Muncie community, has been a Christian blog<br />

writer for 4 years. She has taught for 8 years as a special education teacher as well as a<br />

substitute teacher in Georgia. She also has experience working in state government in the<br />

DUI Intervention program for six years. Her passions include ministry, nonprofit, business,<br />

substance abuse prevention and recovery, education, advocacy, literacy, writing and music. She<br />

is a mother of one daughter and grandmother of two boys.<br />

WaTashaIBarnesIGriffin…President of the Muncie Chapter of the Indiana<br />

Black Expo, Inc. and the Director of Residential Services at the YWCA. She grew up on the<br />

Southside of Muncie and remains a life-long resident, committed to serving those in need in our<br />

community. WaTasha is married to Minister Shoka J. Griffin. They have two children, Shoka II and<br />

Sa’Niya. She is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Facing Racism project.<br />

Chris Bavender…is an Indianapolis-based writer. A Muncie native, she is a proud<br />

Ball State alum. Follow her on Twitter at @crbavender and Instagram @chris_bavender<br />

Sherri Beaty…a writer, music lover, and nature enthusiast who lives in East Central<br />

Indiana with her husband Paul, and their Jack Russel (Jack). She is employed at Ball State<br />

University Teachers College. She consumes her spare time by ditching the dirty dishes and<br />

laundry to read books and hang out with her 18-month-old granddaughter.<br />

LaurenIBishop-Weidner…an essayist who taught university English courses<br />

for many years. A long-time volunteer in local public schools, she loves reading to children<br />

and working individually with struggling readers. She also loves to quilt, stitching memories<br />

into warmth while savoring the stories and history of each pattern. She writes family stories,<br />

Facebook posts, and occasional opinion pieces, particularly on issues affecting public education.<br />

ClarissaIBowers…a 26 year old Communication Masters student living on the<br />

NE side of Indianapolis. This is her third time working with The Facing Project and she is<br />

thrilled to be able to help shed some light on the immense power that can be found through<br />

embracing diversity. When she is not researching communication theory or writing for The<br />

Facing Project, Clarissa performs with her band Second Story and plays roller derby for the<br />

Columbus Terrorz.<br />

83


Michael Brockley…works as a school psychologist in rural northeast Indiana. He<br />

published poems in other Facing Project publications as well as in Flying Island, Gyroscope Review,<br />

Zingara Poetry Picks, Panoplyzine, and I am not a silent poet.<br />

Dr.IRubyICain…Assistant Director of Adult and Community Education and Director of<br />

M.A. degree programs and graduate certificates in Adult and Community Education and Executive<br />

Development for Public Service in the Department of Educational Studies at Ball State University.<br />

She also serves as the Director for It Is Well With My Soul (regional community program focused<br />

on racial healing and equity via family and cultural historical research, presentation, and publication)<br />

and is Leadership Council Member for Within our Lifetime (national network on racial healing and<br />

equity). Her research agenda encompasses transformative and collaborative learning, racial equity,<br />

social justice, and community mobilization. She has presented and published her research findings<br />

locally, regionally, and internationally.<br />

Rev.ISethICarrier-Ladd…senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of<br />

Muncie. He has lived in Muncie, with his wife Elizabeth, and children Mira and Theo, for almost<br />

three years, and is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Facing Racism project.<br />

Jackson Eflin… a mercurial fey creature who absconded with an English degree from Ball<br />

State and hasn’t stopped running since. He has been published in The Digital Literature Review, The<br />

Broken Plate, and No Horns on These Helmets! He spends his nights trying to coax novels down out<br />

of the ether.<br />

Travis Oliver Graves…from Missoula, Montana and has lived and worked in New York<br />

City and Vientiane, Laos, but now calls Muncie home. He’s worked as a fashion assistant, event<br />

planner, interior painter, florist, and spent two years teaching English in Southeast Asia. Writing has<br />

mostly been to him a place of refuge to process his experiences, but as his passion for writing has<br />

increased, he’s sought opportunity to use writing to serve the furtherance of love, thoughtfulness, and<br />

generosity to his friends, community, and world.<br />

AnnaIGroover… a freshman English and political science major who hopes to become<br />

a writer or civil rights lawyer. She believes that words and stories are essential to breaking down<br />

prejudice and hatred.<br />

Josh Holowell…a 29-year-old Pastor who lives in Muncie with his wife Whitney and their<br />

three children. Josh is a 2009 Ball State University graduate from the College of Architecture and<br />

Planning and is in the process of starting a new church in downtown Muncie.<br />

84


Ari Hurwitz…a graduate of Beloit College with a masters degree from Marian University, has<br />

worked in education for most of his adult life bringing intentional focus on human rights, equality, and<br />

justice to his students. Last year, as 6th grade teacher at Inspire Academy, he developed a semesterlong<br />

expedition entitled, “The Other: Bringing Empathy to History and the Now.” Through this he<br />

was re-invigorated to the pursuit of bringing stories of rights and justice from all communities and<br />

to all communities.<br />

Angela Jackson-Brown…an award winning writer, poet and playwright who teaches<br />

Creative Writing and English at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She is a graduate of the Spalding<br />

low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing program. She is the author of the novel Drinking<br />

From A Bitter Cup and has published in numerous literary journals. Recently Angela’s play, Anna’s<br />

Wings, was selected to be a part of the IndyFringe 2016 and this fall, her play Flossie Bailey Takes a<br />

Stand will be part of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Currently,<br />

Angela is collaborating with musicians on a musical she wrote called Underneath the Chinaberry<br />

Tree and her next play, It Is Well, will go on the road this fall.<br />

J.R.IJamison…the Co-Founder of The Facing Project, where he also serves as the Chief<br />

Storytelling Officer. In addition to The Facing Project, J.R. is the Executive Director of the Indiana<br />

Campus Compact, a coalition of 40 colleges and universities that have dedicated their institutions to<br />

campus and community partnerships for the public good. He has been featured in The Huffington<br />

Post, Harlem World Magazine, and on NPR. He calls Muncie home.<br />

SteveIKnote…a sixty-one year-old Hoosier with precious little interaction with other races<br />

until attending college. At IU-Bloomington and later at Ball State, Steve began to cultivate a more<br />

“worldly outlook.” After a thirty-three-year career with General Motors, Steve now is an associate<br />

instructor with Ivy Tech. Steve is an advocate for life-long learning and reports learning a great deal<br />

from Dr. Charles Payne.<br />

River Lin…a life-long learner who loves to travel. Her career in ESL offers opportunities to teach<br />

abroad; she spent 10 years in Japan and her next venture is to the Middle East (UAE). A native of Muncie,<br />

Indiana, River Lin currently teaches ESL in the Intensive English Institute at Ball State University.<br />

Resa Matlock…born and raised in the USA, has more family in Costa Rica. At a young age,<br />

Resa became aware of the strange and complicated ways in which humans view each other. Stories can<br />

help build bridges between people and their different points of view.<br />

Beth Messner…an associate professor of Communication Studies at Ball State University.<br />

She teaches courses related to persuasion and rhetoric. She also studies the discourse of people whose<br />

voices are traditionally silenced.<br />

85


Melinda Messineo… teaches sociology at Ball State University and studies the portrayal of<br />

race, class, and gender in media. She is passionate about connecting people to the many transformative<br />

not-for-profits in Muncie, Indiana – AKA Middletown.<br />

Barbara Miller…a veteran English teacher who has taught in three very different high schools<br />

in East Central Indiana. In each of her classrooms, she has seen racism. Often that racism has been<br />

directed toward local people of color but at other times it has been directed toward anyone who simply<br />

is different. One of Barb’s goals as an educator is to provide her students with authentic experiences<br />

that foster relationships between students of varied backgrounds. Barb has created many opportunities<br />

for students to interact with people who are different, including working with teachers in Japan, India<br />

and Peru. Through that work, she has seen that when personal experiences are shared, prejudices<br />

often dissolve. Barb looks forward this summer to participating in a National Endowment for the<br />

Humanities summer teacher workshop learning about the ancestral Pueblo people and their modern<br />

Hopi descendants.<br />

Deborah Mix…an associate professor of English at Ball State University.<br />

AndreaIPowellIWolfe…teaches English and Honors courses and works as a Writing<br />

Consultant in the Office of National and International Scholarships at Ball State University. She lives<br />

in Muncie with her husband and two children, who attend Muncie Community Schools and participate<br />

in various extracurricular activities in the Muncie community. Andrea is also a member of the Unitarian<br />

Universalist Church of Muncie.<br />

Christine Rhine…a Muncie-based freelance writer and editor.<br />

Aimee Robertson-Fant…serves as Coordinator and Community Organizer for Muncie<br />

Action Plan, Executive Director of Cancer Services of East Central Indiana-Little Red Door, and is<br />

Co-Founder of Muncie Matters. She is a writer and photojournalist and has participated in five Facing<br />

Projects: Facing Autism, Facing Disabilities, Facing Cancer, Facing Racism and Facing Addiction.<br />

Aimee studied Psychology at Ball State University and is the mother of 3 children; Laurelen, 18, Audra,<br />

9, and Owen, 5.<br />

Tom Steiner… lives in Muncie with his wife and 18-year-old daughter. When not working as a<br />

business advisor for the ISBDC, rehabbing his house in the Historic Emily Kimbrough Neighborhood,<br />

or in his woodshop working on the lathe, Tom is always looking for new and interesting challenges.<br />

86


Kelsey Timmerman…a co-founder of the The Facing Project.<br />

Levi Todd… a junior English major at Ball State University. He is the Founder and Executive<br />

Director of Reacting Out Loud, an independent organization devoted to uplifting poetry and<br />

affirming community in Muncie, Indiana. He is grateful to the Facing Project for the opportunity<br />

to engage with the Muncie community and learn more about the problems it faces and the ways in<br />

which it overcomes them.<br />

Maggie West…from Chicago, Illinois and attends ball State University. She is a junior,<br />

double majoring in journalism and telecommunications with a minor in political science. Writing has<br />

been a passion of hers and becoming a story teller is one of many life goals.<br />

Taylor Wicker…a creative writing major at Ball State, and has been involved in community<br />

work in both Muncie and Indianapolis during her studies and beyond. She hopes to continue working<br />

with projects related to diversity and identity in the future.<br />

Stephanie Winn…a 29-year-old wife and mother of two little girls. She works as a speech<br />

language pathologist in a skilled nursing facility. Stephanie loves the Lord and enjoys spending her days<br />

with friends and family!<br />

Annemarie Voss…retired Professor of English from Ball State University, grandmother of<br />

two grandchildren whose other grandfather is of Indian origin from Trinidad.<br />

87


About Our Storytellers…<br />

Sam Abram…From a scrap iron business with three employees (he was ten at<br />

the time) to Superintendent of Muncie Community Schools, Dr. Sam Abram’s leadership<br />

qualities have been apparent. His quiet courage, humble attitude, and compassion enable<br />

him to communicate effectively with people of every background. He was the sixth African-<br />

American teacher hired in Muncie Community Schools; he became the second person of<br />

color to be principal, and the first to be Superintendent. His wife and partner of 59 years,<br />

Millie O’Neal Abram, is also a Muncie native who attended Ball State. Her financial,<br />

intellectual, psychological, and emotional support are integral to his success.<br />

MattIBailey…as a third grader, Matt Bailey attended school on a New Mexico Navajo<br />

reservation where his father was hired to develop curriculum. As a result of his family’s move,<br />

Matt felt the isolation of being an English-speaking, “blond-haired little white kid.” Later,<br />

as a college student, Matt reached out to others of different backgrounds; in fact, his best<br />

friend’s family was from India. After college, Matt donned a Kevlar vest to work at an inner<br />

city Florida middle school as a truant officer where he later taught social studies. He saw the<br />

effects of racism and poverty first hand, as one of the few professional whites in his school<br />

and neighborhood. As a father, Matt was eager to introduce his own sons to a multi-cultured<br />

world and moved his family to London. When they returned to Indiana, Matt took a position<br />

working in local government and felt the impact of racism once again, as residents made<br />

assumptions about his policies based on his skin color and not on his background and beliefs.<br />

Currently, Matt Bailey continues his work in bringing people of diversity together at Ball State<br />

University where he connects faculty and students with community service opportunities that<br />

are mutually enriching.<br />

WaTashaIBarnesIGriffin…Director of Residential Services at the YWCA. She<br />

grew up on the Southside of Muncie and remains a life-long resident, committed to helping<br />

those in need in our community.<br />

Dr.IRubyICain…Assistant Director of Adult and Community Education and Director<br />

of MA degree programs and graduate certificates in Adult and Community Education and<br />

Executive Development for Public Service in the Department of Educational Studies at Ball State<br />

University. She also serves as the Director for It Is Well With My Soul (regional community<br />

program focused on racial healing and equity via family and cultural historical research,<br />

presentation, and publication) and is Leadership Council Member for Within our Lifetime<br />

(national network on racial healing and equity). Her research agenda encompasses transformative<br />

and collaborative learning, racial equity, social justice, and community mobilization. She has<br />

presented and published her research findings locally, regionally, and internationally.<br />

Tom Carey…a life-long resident of Muncie and a fixture on Willard Street where he has<br />

operated Carey’s Superior Barber Shop for more than four decades. He is a retiree of Ball State<br />

University where he served on the maintenance, custodial, and paint shop teams in a career<br />

that spanned thirty years.<br />

Cornelius Dollison…Gentle and soft-spoken, with a keen intellect and talented<br />

hands (this man can weld paper!), Cornelius Dollison knows how to build bridges both literally<br />

and figuratively. He and his wife Mary continue to reach out across boundaries of race, class, and<br />

background to build sustainable cross-cultural relationships that make a difference in Muncie.<br />

88


MaryIDollison…Lifelong children’s advocate Mary Dollison taught 35 years in the Muncie<br />

Community Schools. In 1987, with a friend, she co-founded Motivate Our Minds, a widely emulated<br />

educational enrichment program with proven results in the form of highly successful alumni-including<br />

physicians, nurses, teachers, parents, skilled and unskilled laborers, and business owners. She has been<br />

characterized as “a bulldog in a chihuahua’s body” by fellow community activists. She and her husband<br />

Cornelius married in 1962.<br />

Jason Donati…an environmental educator for the Muncie Sanitary District and father<br />

of four, who grew up in Delaware County and currently lives in Downtown Muncie. Jason left<br />

Muncie in 2000 to serve in AmeriCorps NCCC which took him many places throughout the east<br />

coast eventually settling in Buffalo, New York. Jason returned to Muncie in 2008 and serves on the<br />

board of directors of the Cardinal Greenway, the White River Alliance, The Roy C. Buley Center,<br />

past president of Muncie-Delaware Clean and Beautiful, and the current president of the Muncie<br />

Urban Forestry Committee. Jason and his family helped to start R.A.C.E. (Reconciliation Achieved<br />

through Community Engagement) Muncie in the winter of 2014, which meets monthly with citizens<br />

and community leaders to drive dialogue and action.<br />

Dr.IKarenIA.IDowling…has taught in Indiana public K-12 education as a secondary<br />

Spanish and Japanese teacher and has also served as a faculty member and administrator at the<br />

university level. She and her husband, Trent have two sons, Jared and Joel. She is passionate about her<br />

faith and family, serving the community, multicultural education/cultural competence, and connecting<br />

with diverse people.<br />

Michael Timothy Duerson…In 2006 Michael Timothy Duerson was inducted into the<br />

Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago as one of Top 10 African American Engineers in the United<br />

States. He is the Founder of The Dave Duerson Athletic Safety Fund, Inc. The organization advocates<br />

for stronger concussion regulations, educates students on concussion awareness and detection, and<br />

provides pre and post neurocognitive testing for all male and female student athletes in all sports,<br />

5th–12th grade. For more information, visit http://www.ddfund.org/. Michael and his brother, Dave<br />

suffered the harsh effects of sports-related concussions. Michael’s story is one of meeting adversity<br />

head on and emerging victorious time after time.<br />

HeatherIGilvary-Hamad…and her Palestinian husband are raising two children.<br />

Heather was raised Catholic in a large family in Indiana. She converted to Islam after 11 years of<br />

marriage. She works in the field of higher education in the area of international education. She holds a<br />

Master’s in Liberal Studies from IUSB where her thesis project was on cross cultural marriages between<br />

American women and Middle Eastern men. She lectures on cross-cultural relationships/international<br />

education at a variety of venues.<br />

Shalia Gupta…born In Simla, India, and moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, 23 years after marrying<br />

her husband in 1936. Shalia and her husband have three daughters. Shalia is a graduate of Lady<br />

Irwin College in New Delhi and holds two Master’s Degrees in Child Development and Secondary<br />

Principalship from Iowa. Shalia is a currently retired, but was a teacher and business owner.<br />

Mia D. Johnson, PhD…the program chair for Human Services in the East Central Region<br />

at Ivy Tech Community College, and also teaches psychology, sociology and leadership courses at<br />

Indiana Tech and Anderson University. She lives in Muncie with her husband and two children, who<br />

will attend Del Com Schools in the fall.<br />

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Lonna Jordan… Delaware County Probation Officer who spent her formative years attending<br />

Trinity United Methodist Church in Muncie, Indiana. She graduated from Muncie Central High School<br />

and Ball State University. Mrs. Jordan is a wife and the mother of two children.<br />

Fred Long…born in 1961 to parents Eddie Long and Ada (Funches) Long. Fred and his wife<br />

Glenda have been married 26 years and have 4 children. Fred works as Nestle USA in Anderson and<br />

attends Word of Life Christian Church and Halal Kingdom Ministries.<br />

Dr. Renae Mayes…an Assistant Professor at Ball State University where she trains masters<br />

level students to be counselors and change agents in PreK-12 schools and community settings. Dr. Mayes<br />

focuses on diversity and social justice in her teaching and research. Additionally, Dr. Mayes is engaged<br />

in community efforts addressing inequities in the greater Muncie community.<br />

Richard McKinney…served 25 years in the military, both in the Marine Corps and the<br />

Army. In reflecting on his military journey, he realized that it was hate that got him through. However,<br />

later experiences in life have lead to great a awakening, allowing Richard to come to terms with his hate<br />

and find compassion and empathy for himself and the diverse community he lives in.<br />

EllaIMcNeary…a mother and a grandmother who has been married to Edward McNeary<br />

for 48 years. She has been recognized as the Valiant Woman and Young Christian Woman for Church<br />

Women United. In addition to being heavily involved in the church community, she has served on the<br />

Board for the Delaware County Prevention Council as well as served in many leadership roles in the<br />

Muncie chapter of the NAACP.<br />

Vivian Morrison…born and raised in Muncie Indiana and deeply involved in Trinity United<br />

Methodist Church during the Civil Rights Movement in the late sixties and early seventies. The fight<br />

for civil rights made a major difference in her life and the lives of many others. Mrs. Vivian Conley and<br />

Reverend J. C. Williams and many other spiritual leaders stressed the fact that education and street sense<br />

were the only way to survive in this world. Being a first-generation college graduate in her immediate<br />

family and a freedom fighter and singer in the Muncie black coalition choir made such a major impact<br />

on her that, to this very day, she is very passionate about advocating for the disadvantaged of different<br />

numerous walks of life.<br />

Dr.ICharlesIR.IPayne…in 1962, began teaching in segregated schools in Neshoba<br />

County, Mississippi. In 1972 he became an assistant professor of secondary education, but his specific<br />

responsibility was to start and develop a multi-cultural education program for secondary teachers.<br />

The first of such a program in the country. In 2013 he retired as Assistant Provost for Diversity,<br />

Emeritus; Director of the Office of Institutional Diversity, Emeritus; and, Professor of Secondary<br />

Education, Emeritus.<br />

Dr. June Payne…a native of Charlottesville VA where in 1961, she was one of the first<br />

students in the public school system to participate in the start of integration. After high school<br />

graduation, she earned a BS degree in Sociology from Virginia State University, and MA and PhD<br />

degrees in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University. She worked in the Muncie, Indiana,<br />

community for over 35 years as a psychologist and university administrator. She served as Director<br />

of Counseling and Health Services at Ball State for 12 years before her retirement in 2015.<br />

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JaylaIScaife…daughter of Robert and Wilisha Scaife and a proud member of the Whitely<br />

Community. Jayla graduated from Muncie community schools this year, and participated in the gifted<br />

and talented program, National Honor Society, Society of High School Scholars, and Best Buddies<br />

in addition to being recognized as an outstanding math student. Jayla is also active in youth ministry<br />

through her church and activities in school. She will be attending the University of Dayton in the fall<br />

on a full ride scholarship to play basketball and pursue a bachelors degree in Kinesiology.<br />

Mina Samaan…grew up in Egypt and moved to the states in June 2010. He’s a senior in<br />

Indiana University East studying nursing. After graduation, Mina is planning to do medical missions<br />

all over the world especially Africa.<br />

Christine Satory…is a mixed-blood American Indian who was forcibly taken, at birth, from<br />

her mother and adopted by white parents through the U.S. Government’s Indian Adoption Project<br />

(1950s/1960s). She is one of the thousands of transracial “Split-feathers” that live with the consequences<br />

of forced assimilation.<br />

Rashid Shabaaz…a native of Muncie, Indiana, played professional basketball for Cincinnati<br />

Royals, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. He became a Muslim in 1971 and was the owner of<br />

Rasheed’s Fish-n-Chips in Muncie until it closed. He currently owns Graffix, a printing company,<br />

resides in Muncie and is a member of the Islamic Center of Muncie.<br />

Daniel Stallings…President of Stallings Wealth Management; he spent his early childhood<br />

in Spain, and his school years in southern California. He went to college in Atlanta, Georgia, at<br />

Emory University, and his master’s degree at Azusa Pacific University, and was a higher education<br />

professional at the University of Southern California, Cal State Fullerton and Ball State University.<br />

He and his family have lived in Indiana for over 17 years, and are engaged in youth, education and<br />

diversity initiatives.<br />

Tonikia Steans…a wife and mother who loves giving back to her community through<br />

volunteering and mentoring. She believes that beauty reflects what’s within.<br />

Muriel Weeden…retired educator, having served in the Marion and Muncie Community<br />

Schools for 27 years. She has received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education<br />

and Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University. Muriel is also a playwright<br />

and songwriter, and is the founder of MLK Gospel Choir and Holy Angels School Gospel Choir. She<br />

currently resides in Muncie, Indiana.<br />

Maria Williams-Hawkins, PhD…a graduate of The Ohio State University (1994)<br />

and Associate Professor of Telecommunications at Ball State University. Research foci include:<br />

media criticism, ethnic, gender, age and ability representations, international media, religion and<br />

women in prison issues; often engaged in health related, multidisciplinary projects that are focused<br />

on marginalized groups using technology to advance or improve upon a need. She is minister, wife,<br />

mother and grandmother.<br />

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R.A.C.E. was created to initiate thoughtful conversation<br />

and promote activities that focus intentional efforts<br />

towards reconciliation, equality, and respect<br />

for all races and cultures.<br />

Through public community dialogue<br />

we believe we can strengthen relationships<br />

in our city and focus on prevention.<br />

We strive to eradicate racism and<br />

promote reconciliation in Muncie Indiana.

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