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  • Trish MacEnulty

Where do you stand?


I come from the artist class, meaning we prized education and freedom of expression above wealth or power. My family members were "outsiders" in the racist south where I grew up. My parents were from New England and didn't partake in the surrounding hatred, but they couldn't shelter their children from it. Children and adults regularly used derogatory terms for people of color. One girl from the Mid-east was dubbed a "dirty Jew." In my high school, some of the boys would go out on a Friday night to "roll queers" (beat up gay men) for entertainment.

In Spartanburg, SC, my mother, who had two small children at the time and worked full-time, hired a black housekeeper. She infuriated the other white woman in the area by paying the housekeeper a decent wage. She couldn't change a system which relegated women of color to domestic help, but she could at least lessen the injustice in her own small way. When a group of neighborhood boys sat on our front porch with my brothers and started making fun of the old yard man on his bicycle, my father, suffering from a hangover no doubt, stormed out of the house and, according to legend, literally kicked the boys off his porch. Then he turned to my brothers and said "If I ever hear my sons...." He didn't need to finish the sentence.

Because of the influences of my mother and older brothers (and even my father), I tend to stand on the side of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. And when I hear people railing against the homeless or people on welfare, I'm not sympathetic. Instead of criticizing the poor, they could do something to help. Tutor a child. Donate to a program that provides education for people. Start a community garden. It's easy to point fingers, but not so easy to actually make a difference.


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