Big Veda

In Hinduism, a Veda is a knowledge or truth writing. I don't pretend that this stuff is anything more than rumination. But through writing it I find a bit of knowledge or truth. Hope you find some truth too. PAX


Race Relations

It was the third grade and I was at recess. I recall that it was the fall because I was wearing a jacket. I don’t know which of my friends I was with but I was relating a joke that I heard someplace. We were alone on a far corner of the playground, safely out of ear-shot of anyone who might overhear my inappropriate joke. All I remember about the joke is that its telling necessitated the use of the word “nigger”. Lurking nearby, unintentionally eavesdropping, was a classmate whose name I don’t recall but I remember that she was short and fat and as I was about to discover, she had a big mouth. When I had finished telling my joke and after the tittering had subsided, we turned to walk back to the center of the playground and I was terrified to see Regina Brown making her way to me with Big Mouth McFatterson close behind. What happened next is fuzzy and maybe I have learned to block out the pain and humiliation but there was the distinct sound of someone cracking open a can of whoop-ass and then I remember the smell of wet pea-gravel and dirt while being pummeled by Regina. As I recall Regina, she was about 8 feet tall, very black, and not at all amused by my racially charged musings. She used words that I had only heard my teenage brother use when my parents weren’t around. I took my beating for what seemed like hours but, in reality, was probably only a few short moments long. By the time she finished wearing me out, our little breakdown in race relations has drawn a sizable crowd of witnesses.

I remember looking at the Dairy Queen sign across the street because it directed my face away from the crowd of onlookers. I was choking back tears of pain and shame. Seven year old boys DO NOT cry on the playground, even those who just had the shit beat out of them by a girl. No teachers intervened and there were no further corporal repercussions from the incident. While the elapsed time of the beating was fuzzy, I was painfully aware of every second that ticked by while lying on the ground. It was an eternity. There were some kids laughing and others were wondering what the hell happened. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed about the whipping I took. With the wisdom of thirty years hence, I can only conjecture that I was equally embarrassed that I used the word nigger. I never knew the power of words until that day and I suppose, in retrospect, Big Mouth McFatterson deserves my gratitude. Martin Luther King, Jr. may not have approved of Regina’s methods but I believe he would be happy with the results these many years later.

No matter how I feel about that incident today, there is nothing I can do to make it go away. As a Christian who believes that we may find Christ in all circumstances, I ask myself, “Where was Christ on that playground almost thirty years ago?” As far as I can tell, he was thirty years in the future waiting to teach me about the power of words. I may not always see Christ in the midst of suffering but I can rest assured that he is somewhere in time waiting to teach me about my suffering.



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