Thursday, June 08, 2006

Prejudice on GLORY ROAD

Last night my eight-year-old and I watched a movie together. As you get to know me, you'll realize Chandler and I do a lot together. The other four older kids have gotten older, two of them have gotten married, and I'm no longer part of their play time. I relish my eight-year-old, and I better have grandchildren before he moves out! Otherwise I won't have anyone to sit on the floor with and watch Batman and Justice League and Ben 10 while wearing a towel tied around my neck. As a cape, you know.

Anyway, around midnight -- after Chandler and I created a game we called Roll-The-Baseball-By-The-Other-Guy-Into-The-Wall-And-Score-Points and got shut down by Mom because it got noiser and noiser (man! we get into more trouble when we're not properly supervised!) -- I popped Glory Road into the DVD player and we jumped back to 1965 when Coach Don Haskins, fresh from girls' high school basketball, moved to Texas Western University and started recruiting black college basketball players.

The movie, by Jerry Bruckheimer and crew, is an awesome experience. Not quite as good as Hoosiers with Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper or Remember The Titans, the movie is totally entertaining and engrossing. Read my review at http:// and be sure to vote if you like what you read.

During the movie, Chandler became concerned and then angry at the way the black players were being treated by many of the people. I had to pause the movie and, sadly, tell him that was how things used to be everywhere and that such thinking and meanness still exists in the world in some places -- but not our home. I lived through the 1960s and I saw a lot of what he was experiencing for the first time. I played high school basketball with black players. On Saturdays during college, I played pick-up games at the local gym, and sometimes I was the only white guy playing.

I've never had a problem with race. I've raised my kids not to.

A few years ago, I coached my seventeen-year-old's team at a Del City Salvation Army basketball league. We were the only white team there. I can remember how scared my fourteen-year-old boys were when they walked into that gym. But I kept them together. After two embarrassing losses (one of them 60 to 5) because they were so intimidated, they pulled it together. I taught them zone defense and how to play together as a team. Before the eight-game series was over, the boys had won two games.

More than that, my team -- my kids -- had won over the hearts of the parents of the other teams. Children four to eight years old came out to meet my kids after the games. Tyler, my center, put them on his shoulders so they could dunk the ball. They played, and the parents laughed and hung out and watched when I know it was late and they probably had a million things to do at home. I think those boys -- and my son -- learned a lot that winter, walked a mile in someone else's shoes. Hopefully it will be something that will never leave their hearts.

Chandler, my eight-year-old, is my last innocent. He still has Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and a world without prejudice. But I inadvertently brought it into my house with that movie. He hasn't seen Remember The Titans because he isn't interested in football. I coach him in baseball and basketball. To him baseball is okay, but he loves basketball. Through him I've learned an appreciation for soccer, which I never cared for but understand that he loves it.

So I talked to him last night and I told him that what he was seeing in the movie was at one time real, but that the world has changed. Some. It's up to everybody who cares about such things to keep it changing.

He felt bad for the players, and the movie was a little more heavy than the feel-good it should have been for him. In fact, the experience touched him so much that when Mom woke up this morning, he told her all about it. He didn't concentrate on the wins that those players had, but on the meanness they'd been treated to. He said it made him mad at his skin color. But I reminded him that it took skins of all colors to make the changes that we've made so far.

We just have to keep working at it.


Trace said...

Nice blog!

Rinda Elliott said...

The first time my daughter paid attention to skin color, she asked this lady what kind of soap she used. (My daughter was four) I took her aside and explained that there are all shades of colors.

A week later in Taco Bell, my daughter went up to a man and said, "You're a black man." He nodded and smiled. She then said, "My mom said that's okay."

This was a sweet story. I love the image of the cape. Congrats on starting your blog! I also hear you'll be hanging with us OKRWA authors in September... brave man. (g)