There has been a lot of rhetoric since the Michael Brown killing about the need for a conversation on race relations. Quite a few local leaders and activists have joined in.
Michelle Obama started the “conversation” recently (actually, twice), the latest being a commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama. So who’s brave enough to offer another thought? Remember, this is the president’s wife.
My thought is that I can empathize. I was reared in the ’40s on a small farm when all farmers raised animals even if their commercial model was grain. They produced their own eggs, chickens, bacon and at least one cow. Our clothes smelled from animals and manure, no matter how fastidious our mother was. The “city” kids made fun of us at school.
I didn’t choose to be a farmer’s kid; it was my lot. Their taunting was unfair, sometimes vicious. There was nothing I could do about it — I was who I was and, quite frankly, I was proud of being a farmer.
That experience served me well. Later in life, I encountered folks who disliked my race, my demeanor, my looks, my gender, my ancestry, even my height. I didn’t let them affect me. I was satisfied with who I was. I don’t know how you can abolish prejudice — not just racism, but also prejudice against farmers smelling from manure.