On my first day of fourth grade, a black boy boarded the yellow school bus and sat next to me. We introduced ourselves. We talked. We found we were in the same class. During that day, we create the foundation of what might have become a friendship.
On the second day of school, I sat by the window when the bus stopped where it had picked up the black boy the day before. He was standing on the sidewalk. I opened the window and called to him.
He looked at me, then looked at the ground as the bus pulled away.
I never was able to speak to him again. After that first day, he rode a different bus to a different school. There were no Blacks in my classroom. Ever again. Not through grammar and high school in North Carolina. Not in college.
I entered the fourth grade in 1953, before schools were required to integrate. Looking back on this incident, perhaps I should not be surprised.
However, the bus I rode was to a school on Quantico Marine Corps Base. The integration of the Marine Corps began in 1948, and the Corps reached full integration in 1960.
In 1953, the Corps was integrated, but the schools attended by the children of Marines were not. After all, this was Virginia, and the schools had to meet state standards, as well as the unwritten rules of the local populace. It would not do to have peasants with torches and pitchforks attacking what was probably the most famous Marine Corps base.
As I grow older, some memories fade; others become more vivid. I can see clearly the scene I described, above. To my regret, I do not remember the boy’s name. But I remember understanding for the first time the bigotry that lies in the underbelly of American society.
Donald Trump did not create bigotry with his attacks on Muslims, refugees, people who bypass immigration controls in order to seek a better life, and others. All he did was appeal to something that has existed for a long, long time.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.