As I sit here researching human rights, including the treatment of immigrants, the poor, the oppressed, I am reminded of my spirituality and the religions that are based on LOVE. One Christian song goes like this:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
If you are a Christian, do you believe the meaning of these words?
If you are not a Christian, what religion of love do you worship and celebrate?
I know there are many and, for that, I am grateful.
No matter your walk in life, we have all been affected by racial diversity. Some find it threatening. Others find is socially and culturally mesmerizing and exhilarating. For the purpose I am pursuing, let’s narrow it down to the white and African American culture.
While starting my new novel, my fear is the voice inside my head. It says,”How can you, a white woman, write about the African American experience in 1963? How could you possibly understand?”
Here’s my goal. To write an entertaining novel for all age groups but especially for young adults who may not know important historical facts about the Civil Rights Movement- which I will weave into the novel. I want the reader to take pause, reflect, and think about their actions going forward.
Big goal, huh? But I sincerely believe that understanding the past will put us in a better position for the future.
Here’s the premise to the novel:
In 1963, while staying with the unhinged friend of her deceased grandmother, a 14 yr old white girl from Texas meets a teenaged “Negro” boy from Alabama and learns first hand about racial injustice.
Sitting on the leopard print living room couch next to Gladys, I know I’m living in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Not because Gladys sits in the exact same spot wearing the same flapper dress from when I got here three days ago. And not because Olvie hasn’t bothered to move her. I’m in The Twilight Zone because I have to spend the next few weeks living with a fruitcake.
I peek out the front window. Olvie’s at it again. Just a few minutes before, like she’s done every morning, she told me to “stay put” until she comes back inside with the newspaper. And like every morning, she won’t pick it up until she sees Elias Ford heading her way on his walk to work.
Olvie’s shuffling down her sidewalk towards the curb wearing her moo-moo and striped yellow and black socks. She bends down to pick up the newspaper. He must be getting close. Yep. I see him now. Mr. Ford has stepped into the danger zone, too close to The Property of Olvie P. Crazy.
Like always, Mr. Ford tips his shabby hat and attempts to hurry past.
Like always, Olvie steps in front of him with the familiar finger point and the poke, poke, poke to his chest.
I don’t get why she doesn’t like him. What’s the Controversy anyway?
Yesterday morning, Crazy Olvie had forgotten to close the front windows. I heard her ask Mr. Ford if she could spit on his shoes. “It won’t take long,” she’d said, almost politely.
I wonder what she’s quacking to him about this time. That his shoes need polishing? That his rusty lunch pail should be thrown off a cliff? That the only reason he still lives around the corner is because my daddy spent “too much time” repairing his house so the city wouldn’t tear it down? Mr. Ford lives in what some ignorant people call, The Black Pocket—a small thicketed area that folks like Dad fought to keep intact. Including the ten or so residents.
Mr. Ford shakes his head. I bet right now he’s wishing he’d moved after all. His expression reminds me of Tom Robinson in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and the thought makes me sad.
I get in Gladys’ face. “Let me tell you. I’m not happy about being here either. So there.” She doesn’t respond, of course.
I must be catching her loony bug. Perhaps I won’t last a few weeks. Maybe not even day four. I ponder where to go and what to pack before I run away.