short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Carol and I

I grew up in a neighborhood where racial prejudice was pervasive. Actual discrimination rarely occurred, however, because the entire town was white until Carol’s family moved there. Carol’s first day in my second-grade classroom caused a stir. She was short, like me, but unlike me, black. The teacher put her in a front-row seat across from me. Everyone was quietly contemplating this situation — one African-American among 25 of us Anglo-Saxon children — when Larry, the boy who sat in the seat behind Carol, arrived late to school. He walked over to his desk, glanced around, then stared at the new occupant of the desk in front of him, and exclaimed, “A nigger!”

Classroom discipline immediately broke down. While the teacher restored order, I looked over at Carol and smiled. She smiled back. At that moment, I became angry with Larry for his cruel words, and Carol instantly became my new best friend. She was different from the rest of us, and I was intrigued by differences. Thinking about differences gave me a chance to understand myself better through the comparison and allowed me to see things from new perspectives. The latter appealed to me because the perspective I saw on a daily basis was brutal.

For the rest of the year, Carol and I were a “pair.” I was popular enough among my classmates to get away with befriending a non-white child. In fact, much of the antipathy toward Carol that could have appeared in our second-grade classroom did not. However, the community was a different story, and I lost my best friend by the end of the year when her parents, unable to tolerate the rampant prejudice of the 1950s in white America, moved away.

This excerpt is adapted from my book, Blest Atheist (MSI Press, copyright 2009).


  1. I got very involved in your moving story. It's achingly reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. Well done!

  2. Hi Elizabeth:
    How different our lives started out. My name is carole ann (I am white); my best friend was Carol Ann (she is black) from kindergarten until I left our town as a teenager. I grew up, 1950's, in a small (2,500) rural Central California town, Fowler. Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Armenian, White, Portuguese, and whatever. We honestly never knew prejudice against one another. I found out about racial prejudice as a teenager in Los Angeles : (
    Today, I have grown daughters that are mixed with Black and a Princess Grand daughter that is white, black and Filipino. I am so lucky.
    I have to figure out which blog is your main one so I can come and comment and say thank you for visiting my blog : )
    Thank you

  3. I'm so proud of you for befriending her--I'm sure she remembers your kindness as it stood out from the others' narrow-mindedness.

  4. Mary, thanks for your comment. I think To Kill a Mockingbird told the story of a very severe form of prejudice, but prejudice in any form "kills."

    Ah, California, Carole! That is where I live now. It is the closest place to a true melting pot that I have seen (although Washington DC might rival it). When my daughter, Lizzie, graduated from UC San Diego, President Clinton was keynote speaker and he unrolled his new diversity policy there. The students were confused as to what he was talking about because no two of the same ethnic were sitting side by side; the graduating class was awash in colorful combinations. (My own children have mixed up my white race: Lizzie and Shane married Hispanic, and Noelle's Ray, now deceased, was black. Doah will probably never marry, but his friends come in all varieties, as well.

    Jeannette, I would love to learn where she is and how her life after that went. I had a similar thing happen years later, as a teenager. A Japanese family arrived, and, shades of WWII, they were ostracized. The two girls were my age and a year older, so once again I developed a friendship that was torn away when the parents left because of our small-town prejudice.

  5. Hi There, That is a sad story... I grew up in the 50's in rural southwest Virginia. We were mostly whites--but there were blacks in town --and everyone accepted them...I never knew racial prejudice until I was an adult.

    Racial prejudice had made some great strides I thought until recently. I had never considered myself prejudiced AT ALL--but some people in this country consider me prejudice NOW simply because I do not like our current President. Seems that anyone who is against his big-government policies is considered against him racially --but that is simply not true. Being against Obama is definitely NOT about race. It's sad that some people are making it a racial thing ---which does nothing but hurt our country even more.


  6. Thanks, Betsy. I lived for a while in Northern Virginia in the 1980s, and I would have to note a considerable difference between that location and time and my Maine home of the 1950s.


About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.