Lady Pafia Marigold, entry #38

You might want to pay him a visit, Kanye West

second-hand bigotry in the Land of Lincoln

Literati

Our contest is soon to enter the next phase, where finalists will be chosen based on the power, poignancy, passion, persuasion and pugilism in pursuit of palliative healing of the entries submitted. (Yes, I like alliteration a lot) I recently had outrageous activities on the kitchen table that may have scattered some of the remaining entries, so it’s possible a few of the entries never got to cyberspace.  As in the past, when something slipped through the cracks, that contestant was automatically enrolled as a finalist, and that will apply here as well.  This entry by Lady Pafia Marigold may be the last, so, please, if you submitted (and, oh, I love submission!) but did not get posted (now there’s a misogynistic oxymoron!)  please alert my staff (I’m on a role here, recalling our mission statement that pre-dates the austerity of this contest: Putting Gravitas on a Lo Carb Diet) and we will make amends and see that your story gets full exposure!  We (actually, moi,)will formulate the method by which finalists are chosen.  Lady Marigold has chosen to provide a brief narrative and a small dose of editorial in response to our prompt:

 

 

 

 

 

The Divided Emancipation of America

 

By Lady Pafia Marigold

 

Ten year old Pete, 100 years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, lost his innocence to racism in America.

Agnes Ross, Pete’s second mother from the day he came home from the hospital, walked her Christian faith with selfless love given to Pete in life lessons about forgiving, dignity and equality.  Her husband, Dr. Ross, the principal of the “Negro” grade school also honored their ancestors both free and slave.

In 1963, Dr. Ross’s white boss had only a master’s degree and less teaching experience.  The Ross family could be served in “Negro” stores, but not all “White” ones.  They owned a house in the only part of town they could.  The overwhelming majority of town whites were bigots of insulting language and clear threats.

Despite the town’s historical Appellate Court where Lincoln once tried a case, segregation, discrimination and inequality remained in “The Land of Lincoln.”

The raw white supremacy fears meant backlashes in response to Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham Jail and the ordering of the Alabama National Guard to enforce “Negro” admission to the University of Alabama.  During the next two years there would be murdering and maiming of King’s supporters who joined his cause, scars carved ever deeper upon a divided nation culminating in three weeks that included “Bloody Sunday” and the Selma to Montgomery March.

Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1965, but the bigotry of Pete’s town burned like hateful crosses.  Pete cried in joy when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared his “Dream,” a forgiving sanity to an insane nation, but neither could heal the ignorance.

In 1968, Pete’s high school was called to assembly days after the King assassination.  The 50 “Negro” students were placed in front of nearly 1600 white students.  The principal mildly condemned the murder only to avoid racial riots from erupting.

At closing, anyone wishing to stay to watch the King funeral broadcast could or if not they were to return to their classroom.  Pete covered his tear-stained face from the thunder of folding seats and departing footsteps.  When the ghostly silence settled, Pete was the only white person remaining.  Below him sat the African American students.  He later regretted staying motionless while mourning at a distance.  Second-hand bigotry is a metastasizing cancer within the soul of even good people.

Returning afterwards to class, Pete was ridiculed by Mrs. Echols, his history teacher.  Without an ally in the room, Pete called her a bigot and Christian hypocrite.  She was too embarrassed to remove him.

Pete was later censored by Mrs. Echols’ all-white church for preaching against racism.  He left that church telling his birth mother that he wished to join Agnes’ church of true Christianity.  She forbade him, fearing the trouble it would cause their family.  Sadly, Pete obeyed.

Pete has passed away, King’s Dream remains unfulfilled, police murder people of color and alt-right mobs march with weapons espousing Aryan supremacy, privilege, purity, coloring G-d and Jesus white.

A divided people cannot stand forever.

 

 

 

19 comments

  1. Avatar
    Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    There’s a strange charm to your writing style, and I’m glad that this piece doesn’t have the headlong-off-the-cliff excesses that often catapult the heart of the message into the abyss. But as with so many other contributions to this contest, a lot less salting with adverbs and adjectives would greatly improve the dish.

  2. Avatar
    F.J. Dagg says:

    Perhaps your best yet. The writing is more controlled and disciplined than in earlier pieces, yet the passion remains.

    I can infer from the timeline that we are of an age, so the events you cite are tragically familiar, but it is your final line that resonates most strongly: “A divided people cannot stand forever,” is a notion that haunts me ever more frequently.

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear James,
      Politically speaking, we could not be further apart, I suspect, yet I admire the character & steadfast consistencies in your positions as a conservative. Your words are always articulate, concise, rich with meaning which leave no doubt. Thus I thank you & am honoured by your kind critique & the time invested in rendering them to me.
      Ta,
      Pafia

  3. Derek Thompson

    An eloquent piece of writing that gives us a clear historical context for the narrative. What struck me most was: ‘He later regretted staying motionless while mourning at a distance. Second-hand bigotry is a metastasizing cancer within the soul of even good people.’ It illuminates two of the greatest challenges in overcoming prejudice. Firstly, that we are all programmed by our experiences and need to challenge them in ourselves as well as others. Secondly, that it’s often hard to know what the right thing is, and to best approach that we need to step outside our comfort zones and how we see ourselves.

    This entry reminds us all that we all have further to go before we see our similarities before we see our differences.

    • Avatar
      Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      In the dark secret fastnesses of most people’s hearts, they want everyone to agree with them, which is rather a different thing from wishing we’d all get along.

      This contest has rather brilliantly laid that bare, and I imagine there’s been some considerable consternation in discovering how quickly otherwise very nice people have turned otherwise, the minute their cherished beliefs have been challenged. Fellowship, I guess, isn’t even skin deep…

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear Derek,
      To be so honoured by a writer of your calibre is priceless to me as well as your wisdoms given to me as friend elsewhere. My conundrum, the enigma puzzle piece of our relationship, which I doubt we will ever be solved to my satisfaction, is your attachment as a staff member of AWWYP which I am leaving for clear, moral reasons. Still, you remain just as dear to me & my belief in you as a decent gentleman advocating for the less fortunate is not diminished.
      Ta,
      Pafia

  4. Avatar
    Miryam says:

    Your piece really hit the mark. Each point was constructed with precise strength. I sense a lot of “soul” went into this submission. It stands on it’s own. When I read such pieces as this one, I want to become a writer.
    Thank you Lady Parfia Marigold

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear Miryam,
      I wish to thank you for your kind appraisals, your peaceful sweetness, but wish to assure you that you are indeed a writer with many skills & a lady of substance within your written words. Your manners throughout this contest should be an inspiration to us all to be our better selves.
      Ta,
      Pafia

  5. Avatar

    ‘but the bigotry of Pete’s town burned like hateful crosses.’

    Nice:)

    Loved the impassioned quality of this entry. The metaphors are especially wonderful for me in this entry, and I like how focused and direct the verbal flow is, and how it traces the causal chain that unfolds for a human ‘being’; when genuine injustice enters the stage in adolescence (obviously, it’s when I formed my most lasting impressions of the issue at hand myself) it’s the fallout that really drives these painful experiences home, isn’t it?

    In any case, excellent entry Pafia.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Shawna

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear Shawna,
      First, thank you for your articulate words & friendship to both myself & Parisianne before me. Second, my only real regret in leaving AWWYP as Parisianne did before me due to injustices is that I will not be able to cast my earned, one vote for you to be in the finals. In my mind, you wrote the best entry piece with your “Stonework” & your “The Crucible” was easily top ten.
      Ta,
      Pafia

  6. Avatar
    D. L. Diehl says:

    Warning: multi-part comment:
    #1
    I am writing a comment at the request of Pafia. I’ve avoided this contest like the plague, neither reading the entries nor writing for it. How can an idealistic white girl from the Midwest weigh in on such deeply entrenched social tragedies as anything other than as a twice-removed bystander?

    Pafia’s line “He later regretted staying motionless while mourning at a distance” sums up my stance precisely–but with the knowledge that regret is only another ineffective emotion masking powerlessness in the face of true evil. In this divided world, there is no way to close the distance between the bleachers because our tribes are as divided as they ever were.
    Cont’d…

  7. Avatar
    D. L. Diehl says:

    Part #2
    An outsider sympathizer with justice belongs to no camp.

    Another commenter called this writing impassioned. I read it differently. It affected me more like a chilling epitaph on a tombstone. If the intent of this cold, calculated indictment was to make the reader want to puke in response to the futility of it all and sink into depression at the sheer number of bigots still spewing their hatred in our country, Pafia has succeeded. It seems that no matter how many enlightened people come forward to march, sign bills, petition, and die for equality, the racists are still numerous enough to rise to power. Pass me an anti-depressant or a shot of tequila, please.

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear Diana, I deeply appreciate your words, because Pete was born & raised in the southern farm belt part of the Midwest where the acceptable values were neither coast & ignorant hatred of anyone not white & not protestant thrived. From my spirituality beliefs, Pete’s true story is biographical, non-fiction exactly as it occurred. Most, who know me intimately, would call this autobiographical & be correct as well. This is a historical funeral for Lincoln, Dr. King & Pete’s innocence. Cases are still heard in that Appellate Court where Lincoln won a tax case in 1859 when slavery was legal in the USA. I leave AWWYP still praying for Lincoln’s & Dr. King’s Dream, but knowing that the work is far from done. Ta, Pafia

  8. Avatar
    Grant says:

    Direct, frank and submitted with factual precision … yet interlaced with a number of masterful lines that serve up sublime depth. Very well done Lady P!

    • Avatar
      Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      Dear Grant, Thank you for leaving your kind remarks. I have left AWWYP other than thanking those who deserve to be. I have one very large sorrow. Over the years, AWWYP was a very special place for Parisianne & then me during this past year. I have gained so many wonderful friends including yourself, met some of them as I did your wife & you last June, but I fear that those friendships will disappear once I am absent from here unless on a different social media site such as FaceBook. I refuse to attend Mr. Sully’s June party, but will miss not seeing my true friends there. You are a gentleman that I highly respect as a person, love your poetry & I wish your family blessings in each of your lives individually & together. Ta, Pafia

      • Avatar
        Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        Imagine if you woke up one day and decided to put down your burdens, accept yourself as just another human being, no more and no less complex than any other, despite the fact that everyone’s individual journey is different, and made the miraculous discovery that you don’t need to keep running from yourself?

        • Avatar
          Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          What if instead of perpetually memorializing poor Pete, you let him live as much as he might need to? All of you might be happier…

Comments are closed.