The Flowering Vine: A Letter to Our White Great-Grandfather

black and white me

Dear Robert,

My name is Gwin and I am one of your great-grandchildren.  Today, I am writing to you in hopes that your soul has ascended to an elevated level of understanding and empathy-having left your dark and dense material world many years ago.

As you can see, I am not exactly what you might have expected.
I am not Caucasian.
I am a strong and beautiful brown-skinned girl.
I am Black.
We are Black.
You see, I am one of many.
We are the grandchildren of your son, Leroy.
From what I have been told, our grandfather spent quite a bit of time at your home with you and your other children.
In fact, he once showed me a knee injury that he sustained while playing on your farm.
So there’s no doubt in my mind that you knew him and he knew you.
But, do you know us?
Did you notice that he married a beautiful and educated black woman?
Did you see their babies?
Did you see their baby’s babies?
Would you have recognized us as YOUR children?
Or would you have been horrified?
Terrified?
Based on historical documents, I know that your family is deeply rooted in the South.
I know that many of them fought and died for the Confederacy-their cold dead fingers still wrapped around that flag.
I also know that they vigorously worked to maintain white supremacy and dominance well after The Civil War.
History tells me that it is very likely that you and some of your kin gathered up the women and children, put on your best suit of clothes, packed a picnic and gleefully watched as one, or more of my black ancestors was beaten to death and hung from a tree.
You and your kin normalized the murder and torture of black folks because, in your Earthly simple mind, we were less than human.
Yet, you wouldn’t have dared watch someone hang a horse.
There is no justifying that.
But, as I write this letter, I have hope that God’s grace has brought you to a higher level of awareness and you now know just how sick you were.  I pray that you have boldly accepted whatever karma came your way and released your hatred.
However, having said that, I must inform you that your inability to repent for your sins while on Earth has led to the creation of a very ugly wound on our current society that never healed.
 In fact, it’s beginning to fester and without an immediate intervention, it will become septic—which is, indeed, fatal.
If you don’t believe what I am saying, I give you this post written by your Great-Grandson, my cousin, Ronald.
Here’s the thing Great-Granddaddy, I want to forgive you and yours for your trespasses, but it is hard as hell when the worst of you continue to uproot any amount of progress that is made.
Therefore, I’d ask that you send prayers of enlightenment and love down to all of those who are working so hard to dominate and oppress people who do not resemble them.
I’ll join you in those prayers.  Maybe, between me and you, we can initiate healing and change.
Peace, love and light to you!
-Gwin.
PS:  You can reach me in my Alternate Universe version of 1982 :).
Also I am enclosing a picture of your son (Leroy) and your Grandson (My Daddy).
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Blackie

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“Blackie” the dog

 

Ok, let me hang on to my integrity by admitting that I never learned the dog’s real name.

That said, he will forever be known to me as “Blackie.”

Anyway, many long years ago, when I was about six or seven, Mama would take me to my bus-stop every morning to catch the bus for school.  Honestly, the stop was very close to where I lived—but it was at the top of a rather steep hill.  Mama thought it would be better if she drove me to the stop in the mornings; that way I could start my school day looking nice, fresh and clean.

She said, “I’ll take you in the mornings so you won’t have to go to school all sweaty– looking like a field hand.”

And with that, a deal was made, Mama would drive me to the bus-stop in the mornings but I would walk back home each afternoon.

Well, the first couple of days, my walk from the bus-stop was rather enjoyable; I liked the independence of it all.  Besides, I didn’t have far to go and it was completely downhill.  This was going to be a breeze! No problems!

The deal between me and Mama worked out fine!

Until it didn’t.

Enter “problems!”

One day, as I was making my usual trek home, I came upon a little black dog who started barking at me from a yard across the street.  Naturally, this startled me since I had never seen him before.  At any rate, although I was startled, I was not afraid because I had been raised in a home with all kinds of dogs. In fact, my Dad rescued and trained hunting dogs. That said, a barking dog was a non-issue to me.

By the way, you can read more about me, daddy and our dogs here.

Anyway, as I was saying, I wasn’t scared, but I was on guard so I did my best to quietly walk past the dog’s ‘dominion.’

When I got home, I didn’t mention this to Mama, because, after all, apart from all the loud barking, the dog had kept his distance.

Until he didn’t.

The next day, after I got off the bus and commenced to walk home, I noticed that same little black dog in his yard barking like he was one of my Doberman Pinschers.  Again, I was startled but not too concerned so I just looked straight ahead–kept my stride and walked past.

Friends, the next thing I knew, that little joker had crossed over to my side of the street and had begun biting at my heels!

And we were off!

Me and the dog–both ‘flying’ down that hill like two bats out of hell!

Y’all I was in a race for my life!  In fact, I was sprinting so fast that I could barely stop myself!

You may recall that I was coming down a steep hill.  A steep hill that, by the way, ran perpendicular to a busy thoroughfare.

Had I kept running, I might have crossed directly into the path of several cars.

Good thing I was able to stop and catch myself!

Needless to say, by the time I stopped, I was totally breathless and scared out of my wits!

When I looked down, I noticed that the little black dog (whom I later named “Blackie”) had already turned around and was making his way back home.

Enter Mama!

After somewhat gaining my composure, I walked the last few yards home.  Mama was standing there as I entered the house through the kitchen.

Having noticed how disheveled and discombobulated I was, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

I said, between wheezes, “A dog chased me home!”

Mama asked, “What dog? Where?”

I said, “Up Wycliffe Street.”

Mama said, “Come on let’s go!”

And with that, me, Tack and Mama jumped in the car!

Mama drove up Wycliffe and said, “Show me the house!”

I pointed to “Blackie’s” house.

Mama pulled up into Blackie’s yard, parked and said, “Y’all wait right here!”

Folks, Mama got out of the car, strutted up to the front door and started knocking like she was the Chief of POLICE!

Within a minute or so, a man came to the door and said, “Can I help you ma’am?”

Mama spotted Blackie standing behind the man and said, “Your dog chased my daughter home.  She almost ran into traffic! Now look, she gon’ have to walk down this hill everyday after school so you gon’ have to keep that dog in the house!”

The man said, “Ma’am I’m so sorry about that.  I’ll make sure he stays inside when your little daughter comes by.”

Mama thanked the man, bid him a fond farewell, got back in the car and drove us home.

The next day when I passed “Blackie’s” house I noticed that he was not in the yard barking but he was peering at me through his front window.

I imagined him saying, “You so lucky I ain’t outside!”

LOL!

All jokes aside, Mama was bold!  You have to remember, this all took place in Georgia in the early 1970’s and “Blackie’s” owner was an older White man.  At that time, most places in the South were newly integrated so Mama, who was only about 29,  was gambling with her life when she decided to approach that man about his dog.

But, as they say, don’t mess with a Mama bear’s cubs!