A Child’s Vision Can Bring Us Hope.
I was raised by a man who was a flaming racist, an undeniable womanizer, a child abuser, a staunch Republican, a business owner and community leader, a financial wizard who repeatedly committed financial crimes, and a religious pretender.
No, his name was not Donald Trump. Still, for the past four years, it felt like I’ve lived under my father’s roof again.
Why didn’t I grow up and abuse my children?
The answer to that question may hold the answer for all of us to find Hope for 2021 and beyond.
The answer is simple.
I chose to imitate the good people in my life, and there were many.
Racism in 2021 and Beyond
The first person I ever saw with brown skin was a minister who came to town each summer, handing out miniature bibles. He was such a kind man, but my mother told me to stay away from him because he might be dangerous. My father simply laughed and talked about the sundown laws and how the man would be hanged if he remained in town after sundown.
I decided to ask Grandpa Burton if he knew anything about the people with brown skin. He remains the kindest man I have ever met, but his story chilled me to the bone.
He explained how his family had owned a plantation before the Civil War. The story he told was about wonderful people who loved the Burton family. He told me they even had a secret school at the plantation to teach the children how to read, but how that was against the law at the time. He repeated stories of how the workers cried after the war because they didn’t want to leave.
That was it. That was the full extent of my knowledge of people of color.
A Brown-skinned Hero
One evening during my freshman year at the University of Northern Iowa, I headed across campus to the library to return a book.
Five white boys came out of nowhere and threw me to the ground.
They surrounded me and started trying to rip my coat off as I fought and kicked in the deep snow.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of fists hitting bodies and yelps of pain as one-by-one the white boys were ripped away from me.
My hero that day was Rick Price. I believe he played the position of Center on the football team. He picked me up out of the snow and carried me to safety.
A boy with brown skin risked his life to save mine.
There was no doubt he was out-numbered, but he proved his worth that day beyond any of the lies you hear about people with brown skin.
It all goes back to the stories that Grandpa Burton told me of the strength and compassion of people of color. He reminded me that Jesus also had brown skin, unlike my own.
And now, I have two beautiful grandchildren with brown skin. They are part of our family now, and I will do anything necessary to protect them.
Let us all learn from the child who was taught to hate and fear people of color, but grew to understand they can be better than us in so many ways.
If there are White Supremacists or KKK members in the room…Leave the room. It’s what Grandpa Burton would expect of all of us. Our children are watching.
Misogynistic Behavior Must End If We Desire Hope for 2021 and Beyond
You might be wondering why I never asked Grandpa Burton for help against my father. I can only answer that question by saying it would have destroyed my grandfather, one way or the other.
It took more courage than you can imagine keeping my father from hurting those I loved. He could have easily destroyed my grandfather, and I knew it. Everyone in town was afraid of his wrath. The First Sargeant was an incredibly powerful man, both physically and from a position of power in the community.
Some days, I think I’ll explode when I hear the terms “Men will be men” or Boys will be boys.”
You have no right to touch, grab, stroke, or hold us if we don’t want you to.
We are not your property…We are not your slaves!
I was seventy years old when my best friend from high school admitted to me that my father was well-known around town as a “Ladies’ Man.” What does that even mean?
It means someone in her circle despised everything he stood for and warned her to stay away from him. She cried when I told her what he’d done to me. Two old women, lamenting the sins of our fathers. Why do we continue to look the other way when men openly laugh about grabbing a woman by the *%$$&?
Even Tiger Woods was taken down by mimicking his father’s womanizing.
They Are Watching!
Our children are watching. They see the explicit videos found all over the internet. Putting protections on their phones does no good. They simply watch these videos on someone else’s phone.
How do we explain to a kid like Barron that his father’s behavior is wrong when all the adults surrounding the kid apparently condone it?
Will they arrest your son for raping a cheerleader because you never taught him the difference between good and evil?
My guide was Grandpa Burton.
The question was always: “What would Grandpa do?” or “What would Grandpa say?”
I was with Grandpa in his living room when they arrested Albert DeSalvo (The Boston Strangler). The entire family was silent as the News Alert came on the television. When it ended, Grandpa swiped at his eye, and said, “Something terrible must have happened to that poor boy to make him do those horrible things.”
That was the day I learned we all have the ability to become monsters if we allow them to lead us
“What would Grandpa Burton say and do?”
Money Talks – Hope for 2021
My father taught me that all the rich people were Republicans and the poor workers were Democrats. He explained why he kept the Lincoln hidden in the garage all week, only taking it out on Sunday for our trips out-of-town. The lower class wouldn’t understand.
He was a master at moving money from bank to bank, to yet another bank. Back in those days, it took at least seven days for a check to clear. He figured out the system and moved money through loans and moving checks nearly every day. His crimes involved interstate actions and federal crimes.
Federal laws protected the 50 Government Grain Bins on his property. They were sealed and protected. My father couldn’t help himself. If the grain markets rose, he’d empty those bins to make a profit to add to the money he was moving from bank to bank.
The cursing that ensued if the Agricultural Examiners came to inspect the bins was deafening. I remember the longest dinner of my life when the examiner came to our home at the request of my father for dinner. This invitation gave my father’s employees time to fills those empty bins again.
Sadly, I believe growing up watching all this happening is why I went into the field of Commercial Credit. I grew up in the trenches. Sadly, I knew the power games men played with money, and I knew how to catch them.
By the time my expertise landed me a job with the National Association of Credit Management where I could train others, I had a background of working with the FBI to stop the real crooks.
One Famous Wheeler-Dealer-Carpetbagger
One of the classic examples I used when training bankers in the ’80s and ’90s was a man named Donald Trump from New York. The interviews I read from small business owners and contractors who lost everything to Trump’s bankruptcies caused many tears.
There was one quote Mr. Trump
made that was something about being the smartest by learning to use the bankruptcy courts to make money. The bankers paid attention. The stories from contractors who lost everything to pad the big guy’s pockets would break your heart.
How much are we willing to sacrifice for money?
What lesson do we want to teach our children about wealth?
What would Grandpa Burton say about the integrity of cheating others to gain more money and power?
Hope in 2021 – It Depends On All of Us
The one thing I know for sure is that we won’t find Hope in 2021 until we begin to unravel the lessons we learned from those who never should have been allowed to imprint a child.
Stop spending time in the presence of the haters.
Learn to appreciate all the beautiful things in your life that cost nothing
Respect every man and woman, regardless of color or social class.
Understand the true Father does not live on this Earth.
Listen to those with kind hearts.
Distance yourself from those who degrade others.
Protect yourself from the lies which surround us.
Seek the truth.
Dare to be a child again, free of the hatred and false prophets others have led you to.
Our Hope for 2021 and beyond lies within our hearts and our consciousness. Beware of the false Gods who seek not to help you, but to crush your bodies as they attempt to climb even higher to the glory they will never find.