I grew up in one of the whitest states in the United States in the 1950’s in a totally white neighborhood. The textbooks we used were illustrated with white children. Magazine ads featured white models. Television shows were populated with white actors. The only exception were servants such as Jack Benny’s butler, Rochester. The crayon called “flesh” was pink. Santa was white. Jesus was white. I was white, so I had no reason to question the way the world was presented to me.
My grade school had been completely white except for one Haitian girl, daughter of a live in maid. But my high school drew from several feeder schools, and I encountered my first Chinese-American, Japanese-American and African-American classmates. But I still was pretty isolated and oblivious to the issue of race in America.
My baptism by fire came in as civil rights became a central issue in the early 1960’s. I became educated quickly about segregation and discrimination. But at the time I thought it was an issue only in the southern part of the country. Certainly it was there that governors stood in doorways to block students and police turned dogs on protestors. But the absence of true integration, evident all around me in Portland, escaped my awareness.
A lifetime later I have been consciously educating myself about the variety of human beings that share this planet. I have realized how limiting my childhood experience and education was for the world I would live in. I have read deeply about my country, its treatment of people groups from other parts of the world, and its resistance to recognizing the continuing affect of deeply held prejudices of all sorts. And as I look at Donald Trump I see a man who never learned to see, as I have, how much he had lost by isolation and how much he would gain by embracing diversity