I'd like to buy the world a Coke.............

Like most little girls, when I was a little girl I loved my Barbie-like dolls. The world of pretend was a way for me to get away from it all. My creative imagination would run free with storylines and scenarios for my dolls to act out. But, I also liked to give them the names of friends in my real life. The red haired doll was Stephanie, the black haired doll was Micki and so on. I did however feel bad that I couldn't give one of my dolls the name of my best friend, Patsy, because at the time I didn't have any that looked like her, she was black and all I had was white dolls.

This was back in the day when I grew up in that university town of Evanston, IL..home of Northwestern University. Back in the progressive mid 70's, a time when differences were starting to be celebrated. The popular commercial on television was that Coca-Cola commercial where on top of a hill a United Nations crowd of young people sang how they wanted to buy the world a coke.

So as a little girl back then I thought nothing of asking my mother to buy me a doll that looked like my best friend, Patsy - a black doll that she and I could play with in the land of make- believe.

"No Eva, white girls play with white dolls and black girls play with black dolls," said my mother.

I can remember telling her that such a thing made no sense to me because I was white and I played with all kinds of girls...black, Chinese, Spanish - to which she said "it's just the way it is."

Now mind you, Mom could be a little odd at times -Like when I wanted that Easy Bake Oven...she got me one but removed the cords so it wouldn't work, "it's a fire hazard" she told me.

Well, needless to say I didn't argue with my mother about the black doll, rather I found a way around the situation, I took a brown marker and changed one of my dolls so it would look like Patsy, but I also made sure I hid it from my mother - I hated the spankings she gave.

For some reason today I was reminded of that time...being that child and not understanding why as a child I was getting so many mixed messages, but deep down in my own heart I knew what the right answer was - except I couldn't share it with my mother as she was the one in power and with control.

Now mom wasn't a racist so to speak - she had many friends of differing cultures, but at the same time she still held on to the beliefs that were taught to her - giving up some, but not all. Progress, just slow progress.
I guess I am thinking about all of this because inevitably with this recall effort to remove Scott Southworth, his supporters are stuck on the argument of "abstinence" from a pro-life viewpoint rather than attempting to see how others may view such a narrow point of view. Especially those who according to laws in most states would never be able to marry, the homosexual community.

While I myself am not gay, I have known many people over the years who are gay. So just like with Patsy, even though I wasn't black, I couldn't understand the reasoning behind my mothers statement.

Back in the days when I was advocating on behalf of students with disabilities, I had a couple of students I was helping who were not only learning disabled, but also gay. The hell they faced in the school system from their peers, it's no wonder why one of them discussed killing themselves. They were never understood - never allowed to be the person they were born.

Those were also the days when through the organization I belonged to I met a couple in North Carolina. They had contacted our coalition because of the hell they were dealing with at their school district in regard to their severely disabled child that was adopted. Only one of the members of that couple had rights in regard to the child, because they were a gay couple and dealt with so much discrimination for who they were, that first they had to conquer those barriers before they could advocate for the child they loved....the child that was so severely disabled was on machines and tubes coming out of his body that could not see nor hear. Their story broke my heart - especially knowing that this wasn't the only disabled child the one partner had adopted and cared for. Together their love was healing to these children that no one else wanted, but society wanted to turn a blind eye to their entire situation....their family...their experience.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have lived the life I have led and have been exposed to so many different experiences. My heart and understanding is larger for it. I've learned that it's when we celebrate our differences rather than silencing them...shunning them...pretending they do not exist...that miracles do happen - doors open up and progress is made.

But, still to this day, I hear responses like my mothers...a knee jerk reaction to something she was taught before she herself learned better...........


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