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My mother and I were very close because I was all she had and she was all I had. On January 7th of 1918, my mother came to the school and she had a suitcase. She was going to go and have tests taken care of, see why she was having these awful headaches. And that was the last I saw of her.
I’d just finished eating and this matron came by and tapped us along the head. “You’re going to Texas. You’re going to Texas.” When she came to me, I looked up. I said, “I can’t go. I’m not an orphan. My mother’s still living. She’s in a hospital right here in New York.”
“You’re going to Texas.” No use arguing.
I didn’t cry. I guess I was too angry to cry. We were going too far too fast.
That was an ordeal that no child should go through. They pulled us and pushed us and shoved us. And this old man— I had never seen anything like anybody chewing tobacco. I knew nothing about it. This old man came up and his mouth was all stained brown and I thought, well, he’d been eating chocolate candy or something. Then he said, “Open your mouth.” I looked at him and he— “I want to see about your teeth.” I opened my mouth and he stuck his finger in my mouth and just… rubbed over my teeth. And his old dirty hands just— I wanted to bite, but I didn’t.
We got to the house and this old lady met me and says, “You look all right.” And her daughter-in-law was waiting for her husband to come out because the war was over now and her husband was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia, and he would be home soon. She told me just exactly why those people wanted me, that she would be gone and I was growing up and I would be big enough to take care of that house. And that’s all they wanted with me, but she wouldn’t be there to help me.
And said, “What can I do?” She says, “Go back to the hotel and tell them that this is just not for you.” So she drew me a map of where I was, back to the Beckham, and I walked in and I never got such dirty looks in my life as I did when they saw me walk in that door.
“Well, what happened to you?” And I said, “They didn’t want a child. They wanted a slave.”
The next morning, the door of the room opened up and two men were standing in the doorway and one of them— I started here and looked up, like that, and I thought I would never quit looking. That was, I thought, the biggest man I ever saw in my life. Probably was. It was my dad, my foster— would be my foster dad. And he said, “May we come in?” And the matron said, “Oh, yes. Come on. This is Hazel, sitting right here on the floor.” Says, “Get up, Hazel, and shake hands.”
And I got up and he says, “You’re going to be my little girl.” And I says, “If you ever hit me, I’ll never get up.” And he never did.
When I got the letter that my mother had died, I just felt like the door had closed. I just walked out of the house, walked down the road. It was cotton-picking time. Daddy had said I could stay at the house. I did, but I didn’t cry. I just felt, “Well, this is the end of something.”
And there was always that hope that she would get better and I would get a letter or maybe she would come. Somehow or other, I still had that hope.
— Hazelle Latimer, Sent West, Age 11, The American Experience: Orphan Trains
What if he was black?
What if he wasn’t some polished white dude with a cowboy hat and a job in IT, what if he was a black father taking to the internet to complain about his ungrateful child? And then what if he shot up his daughter’s computer and uploaded that clip to youtube?
Would anyone be praising him for being a model father then?
Or would we talk about how POC hurt their children, and how horrible and evil that is? We’d start talking about how certain kinds of people are just naturally harsh on their kids, and we’d take out the statistics for abuse on various minority groups. There wouldn’t be any cutesy “Texas forever” commentary from so-called progressive websites — we’d all be hopping mad at the culture of violence that exists in impoverished communities, we’d be talking about oppressed brown and black women, under the heel of their abusive husbands and fathers.
I mean, I just don’t think there would be quite as much uncritical analysis of this video, if the father wasn’t middle-class, respectable, and white. We’re so willing to give white fathers and mothers the benefit of the doubt.
my buddy tried to get me to watch it after giving me a run down of what it was, i shut it down at the 31 second mark. i could not stand that man. i agree with the above.
White dudes + Firearms = NEVER A GOOD THING.
253 notes (via analogbrain & anedumacationisnomore)