February 14, 2014

Forgive and...Remember

Does anger have stages? You know, like the five stages of grief?

Maybe there's just two: the Anger itself and Forgiveness. I figure Forgiveness either happens quickly and replaces the anger, or it slowly sidles up to anger and co-exists alongside it.

Forgive and Remember. It can happen.

Right now, I'm angry. Forgiveness is inching its way to my anger but right now, that emotion is so wide, it's not leaving a sliver of space for forgiveness. Not just yet anyway.

Georgia's little school participates in basketball tournaments against other little schools, some suburban and some city-based, like hers.  It's great for these kids to interact with each other, especially since our community is very segregated: whites in one enclave -- many in the suburbs, blacks in another - many in the city and a few sprinkled in the suburbs, then Hispanic/Latinos over there, and Asians over here. 

Tonight, they played a suburban school -- mostly white. Georgia's team is all shades of brown and a few white. But more than anything, all those kids are so girly: some awkward, some gangly, some tween-like chunky, yet others who are still waiting on that adolescent growth spurt.

They played more like a team and less like the Keystone Cops (you should've seen them early in the season) and won. She was ecstatic, we were proud and then...


As we were leaving, we walked past the coach of the losing team when I overheard the coach say to some spectators:

 Oh it was just a lot of street ball, lots of elbows being thrown... 

That was code, I can sniff it out anywhere and I hate it.
The code for Black is Urban.
The code for nigger is Thug.
and
The code for poor and black is Street.

She was calling these girls -- these nice girls who still look to their moms and dads in the bleachers when they score a basket or when they turn an ankle: Street. She was calling my girl -- my baby daughter who has wisdom beyond her years, a kind heart and advanced artistic talent, my baby girl who just got her legs under her at mastering this game: Street.

My face reddened and anger crept up into my shoulders, gripping and tightening. I whipped around, butted into that conversation with an icy cold smile, looked her dead in the eye, and said
I'm quite sure our girls didn't mean it in that way...and your team did play a really good game.
Repeat icy cold smile.

She replied Oh...um...well thank you...and so did your girls.

We got to the car and Jamie said You handled that really well. I mean...you were gracious.

I know I was gracious.

Grace is a practiced art in the face of stuff like this. I'm used to pulling out my gracious after being in this skin for forty-some-odd years. I'm used to things like a waitress asking me to spell my own last name to her before giving my credit card back to me because I don't look like my last name should be Fritsch and I may have stolen it from a bona fide Fritsch.

Yeah, I can be gracious.

And I can be gracious as I worry that my baby girl and those other brown girls out on the court and other girls like them have to learn how to be gracious before they even start high school.

And I can also be angry. Forgiveness will happen eventually...and I'll still remember.


There is another side to this story. This is it.

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