Monday, August 19, 2019

Ethnic Cleansing

image from

Ethnic Cleansing

“The Holocaust happened yesterday, the Civil
Rights movement happened this morning. We are
not out of the woods yet.”--Max Joseph.

As a child of the 50’s, with three black kids in my
high school, I’m sad to say I told racist jokes, and
treated Negroes disrespectfully. Fortunately, my
progressive grandparents had black friends they
socialized with. My real eyes began to open,
my heart cleared out a guest room, and my world

During the 60’s, after Viet Nam, civil rights, and
hippydom--I had black buddies in the service,
dated black girls in college, and haunted jazz and
blues clubs. I shedded my racist tendencies like
a snake skin.

Moving to California in the 70’s, I had a similar
journey with Hispanics. I’m ashamed of my past
ethnic ignorance. If any of you have a parallel 
tale. I assure you, color blindness is a blessing,
and you will love again the stranger who was your
self. Souls are all the same color

Glenn Buttkus

Prosery--exactly 144 words

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub


Ken Gierke said...

Your title is a good fit for your journey. Kudos.

robkistner said...

Excellent write Glenn. I, like you, a middle class white, was immersed in the ignorance, and influenced by racism growing up in the 50’s. It took a conscious realization on my part, triggered by having both black guys and gay guys in a number of my bands in the 60’s. I was finally introduced to the persons and not the hateful hurtful stereotypes. We all need to shine the light on ignorance — especially the ignorance that populates the White House and his cronies. Strong writing Glenn!

Jade Li said...

Glenn, your pathway of ethnic cleansing is honest and may have been challenging to put on paper, not sure. My grandparents and parents were racist, but as I look back on when I was growing up, it seems more like it was a trained way of thinking and speaking, much like parrots, without anything to back it up. My dad had a rather benign epithet for blacks, and my mother, whether she realized it or not, planted a seed of kindness for non-whites every time we visited a store where the cashiers were non-white. She was polite and congenial every time, no matter how she talked behind closed doors. When I entered middle school, I was hurled into a very violent and degrading environment, where 95% of the students were black, and the white boys were pummeled and humiliated daily and the white girls were felt up and hit on by the black boys and the black girls hates us with a vengeance for taking the attention of the boys. My hatred for blacks was extreme at that time, as a teenager with an already horrific home life and depression. I avoided anyone of color whenever possible. Years passed. It wasn't until the early 90s when I got into the world of work (yes, I was a sheltered/isolated stay at home wife and mother for many years) that I began to interact with those of all colors, races, religions, creeds, orientations, etc. as a babe in the woods with a bad memory of childhood and learned racism. It took years to process the memories and to unlearn the racism. When I started working as a juvenile probation officer in 2000, many of the kids I worked with were non-white, and the descendants of the very same kids who harassed me in various ways in middle school. It's funny how that worked out, almost as if coming full circle. The path to processing childhood trauma, unlearning learned bias, and looking at the human being rather than any external attribute was worth the effort. Sorry to ramble on, but it was a long story. I appreciated reading yours (and Rob's.)

Kim M. Russell said...

I went through some difficult times when at school in the UK in the sixties. My best friend was a girl from British Guyana, whose family lived not far from ours. My parents were friendly with her parents. I was called terrible names for playing with her at school and at her house. The children who called me those names didn’t understand racism, neither had they experienced the friendship and hospitality of my friend and her extended family – there were six or seven siblings, all talented in different ways. It took an adult racist, who set fire to my friend’s brother, to teach those children an important lesson – underneath the skin we are all the same.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

This is so indicative of my childhood as well Glenn. It certainly takes me back. Well done, it took courage to write this.

brudberg said...

Isn't it amazing how we all have those prejudices until we are tested and fail... we just have to meet the person opposite to us, and we see that differences has nothing to do with color of skin...

indybev said...

You speak for so many, Glenn … and I wish it were yet many more. Great write!

Kerfe said...

A journey many of us have taken. More of us should stand up and say "I've changed, you can too."