Have you ever wondered if you are making impact on the world around you? Sometimes it can feel like we are doing our very best to be faithful to what we know we need to do in the world, but we don’t see the results. Sometimes, we won’t.
My mother graduated from Western High School in Baltimore in (I think,)1957. I remember looking at her HS memorabilia and being surprised to see that there were two young women of color in her yearbook. I had just assumed, given the year, that the school was all white.
I remember my Mom talking about how hard it was for these classmates, dealing with racism from peers, from teachers, administrators and random members of the community who made going to school a nightmare for these young ladies. My Mom said that she felt powerless to help.
I always knew my mother to be one of those people who stood for the underdog and advocated for the disenfranchised. Thinking about it today, I have to wonder if being in the middle of all of that rancid racism wasn’t part of why she was like this as an adult.
I had prepared for the upcoming election and figured out that Ben Jealous brought the issues that really matter to me to the governorship. I had planned to vote for him. The day before I (early) voted for Ben Jealous for Governor of the state of Maryland I learned…
… that I was voting for the SON of Ann Todd Jealous, one of those brave women of color in my mother’s Western High School yearbook.
So let’s track this story: A young woman of color gets terrorized for attending a previously all white school. Her classmates appear either hostile or apathetic. That woman goes on to become a talented and influential therapist, work tirelessly for racial reconciliation, marry a fellow civil rights activist and have a son. That son becomes wildly successful, leads the NAACP and eventually runs for (and hopefully wins) the Governorship of Maryland.
At the same time, an average white girl watches this vitriol hate surrounding her classmates of color. She feels frustrated and angry that she didn’t step in. The white girl remembers all of this vividly and she shares her story with her children multiple times. The events influence her politics, her compassion, her parenting and nudge her to become a caregiver and an advocate for the disenfranchised throughout her lifetime.
She raises three children who all marry interracially, with two out of three being racially conscious in a way that most white children do not have to be, from very a young age. Two of those children become dedicated advocates for racial justice and racial reconciliation.
The white girl from Western’s granddaughter inherits her grandmother’s tender heart and intentionally reaches out to disenfranchised kids with developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other differences. Even as a very young person, she notices and befriends the kids who get rejected or ignored.
That granddaughter trains to become a Music Therapist with an eye toward helping kids on the Autism Spectrum. The granddaughter also becomes a steadfast advocate for the LGBTQ community, even though she is CisGen straight.
The original drop in this pond was Ann Todd Jealous courageously living out her calling, regardless of what hostile adversaries said and did.
One of the lessons I am personally taking from this story is that you just never know what impact you are making. Go out there and do you! Sow seeds of good and know that your pebble is rippling the pond in ways you may never know or see.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
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