Civil Unrest

There is another virus in America and other countries as well. If a Democracy was started while slavery was part of that beginning, racism is still a part of that culture. Many countries under Spanish and British rule, had a dark past. Slavery was invented 500 years ago. It has led to where we are today.

Here is a story about an ACDC hybrid class I taught in the Deep South at a repair shop. A class I will never forget. I will not mention the city or the man (we will call Ray) that owned the shop.

Two night, eight hour class, year 2010, $200 bucks. Books extra. Bad pizza. I drove the ACDC 2004 Prius for many 2 night classes or an all-day Saturday back then. First night no problem. Well attended, great questions and sold a few books. Next night just before class starts, Ray, the shop owner runs outside and starts yelling at a Black man walking by the shop and using the “N” word. The class can hear everything. As you may expect, half the class were of African descent and possibly had a Grandfather or Grandmother who was a slave. Ray walks back into the class area (a few bays in the back). I ask Ray to step outside. I talk quietly and told him he cannot use that language in my class. It did not go well. I finished the class, keeping a professional face on and packed up the Prius and off to the local hotel. I knew his wife, so the next day I called and talked to her. She is and was wonderful. Her statement “That’s just the way he is”.

I have learned in the last 10 years, as an older white male, that that that answer is one big reason why we are having civil unrest today. No it is NOT “just the way he is”. He was not born like that, he was taught that. Time to go back to school. Listen to people that don’t look like you. Look into their eyes.  If you have a racist outlook, take another look at your brothers and sisters. Think again. Is this your best self?

I was born and raised in Ogden, Utah in 1950 by a racist white Father and an open minded Mother that grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. I lived in a white supremacist town and a racist house. I knew no other way of being. I didn’t know it was wrong.  The ONLY people I had ever met or had ever seen were white, period, except in magazines and TV. As I grew older, age 8, I wanted to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I loved them. I asked my Father, Raymond van Batenburg, to take me to see them at the local college on a Saturday night. His answer “I wouldn’t pay 50 cents to see a “N****er” bounce a ball”.  I learned what racism was that day. My parents divorced when I was 10 and a couple years later, Shirley and her six children move to her home town. I have been here ever since.

I am lucky that I did not accept Raymond’s fears about black men. I don’t know why he and so many other white men and women from their generation felt that way. My father died when I was 20, so we never talked about his deep rooted racist views. Was it WWII and Korea? He served in the Navy in both wars. His Father, Oker van Batenburg, an immigrant from Holland? Their church views at the time? I will never know why but I did know it was wrong at age 8. If you grew up in a racist family, just forgive them and love on with your life. Our Church, brought in the local “Black Lives Matter” chapter years ago, when they started to educate white people who would listen to them, after our Sunday service. Reverend Aaron Payson, leads our church, The Unitarian Universalist of Worcester, and he a big white man and is helping our community. He works closely with the Police, our black friends, homelessness and food insecurity and many other inner city issues. I live is a mixed race city neighborhood by choice. When I dropped my Chevy Bolt off at the local dealership a few days ago, a young Black salesman I had never met, took care of me. As I was leaving I asked him, what can I do to help stop racism in America? His answer “Listen to us”. It is always the way to start solving any issue. Just listen, as it may change your heart.

The above picture from 2016 is DJ (our intern) getting the “ACDC Intern of the Year award”