Interracial Marriage, Part 4
What About the Children?
My parents were not the only ones who disappointed me. A college friend was visiting a nearby town and when I told her about my daughters, she told me not to bring my children to her home, because the “neighbors might see them and complain.” When I walked down the streets of San Francisco, people would stare and whisper, and one time a man spit on me and called me a “Nigger lover.”
But Art and I thrived as a couple. We added another daughter to our family, bought a home in Berkley, CA., where we were accepted and loved by our community. We had marital problems, of course, but none were because of our racial differences.
I here interject a little poem I wrote, that many can probably relate to: Notice our differences had nothing to do with our race!
He likes inside; I like out,
He speaks in whispers,
I tend to shout.
I write poetry; he writes prose,
I’m full of joy, he’s full of woes.
I am messy; he is neat;
I like cool; he likes heat.
I’m hopeful; he’s pessimistic;
I’m full of fancy; he’s realistic.
I am restless; he is still.
He likes low-key; I like thrill.
He likes plain; I like pretty;
I love the country; he loves the city…
Opposite, they say, attract…
I can testify to that fact!
So here we were, with a lovely home in a fabulous neighborhood, Art now becoming a rising star in the corporate world and me privileged to be able to stay home and care for our three talented, beautiful, intelligent daughters!
Then a seeming disaster struck… Art’s company offices announced they were moving to Phoenix, AZ. and Art was offered an excellent position, which he felt he could not turn down.
I was pretty ignorant about Arizona, but I knew it was hot and conservative, full of cowboys and tumbleweed in my imagination. The only consolation was that the house Art found for us was “by a mountain” ( turned out to be a massive ROCK, in my opinion) and it had a swimming pool. I was reluctant to leave our cosmopolitan neighborhood in California but that is what we did, moving into our new home in 1975. We were quite the curiosity those first few days, as each and every neighbor came by to greet us, bearing home baked goodies, citrus fruit and coupons from the local newspaper. Later, our closest neighbor confessed how upset he had been when we first moved in, how Art had won him over and single handedly changed his mind about “Negroes.” He came to admire Art so much, when he died, his family asked Art to be one of the pallbearers.
We were always aware of the undercurrents of racism, of course, but times had changed and overt racism was verboten in most social circles, though it still reared its ugly head now and then, and especially in Arizona politics. One of the most memorable racial incidences, if fact, came from the then governor’s grandson, who was on the school bus the day our daughters boarded it for the first time. He yelled “What are you Niggers doing on this bus?” Hearing this story as they returned from school that first day, my heart sank, but the girls said the others had shouted this boy down and stood up for them.. anti bullying at its best!
I wish I could thank the children on that bus that day, who defended my daughters and set the tone for what was to come.