Well....Occupy Democrats.....my dad grew up at a time of pretty intense racial division between Italians (especially Sicilians) and Black Americans. I heard some of the Italian words he used to use. He was none too keen on me dating Black men. But when my future husband, Scott, asked my dad permission to marry me, my dad said yes, and embraced my husband as a son, and danced at my wedding. And when my babies were born, my dad was right there to play with them, help with them, feed them, hold them. And when I couldn't easily afford 3 tickets to fly across country to visit him in NY, my dad paid for the tickets for both my kids, EVERY time we flew out. And he helped me start college education funds for both of them. My daughter recently graduated with no college debt at all, and part of that was due to my dad. And when my dad heard Scott's cousin's name called out in a doctor's office, 2000 miles away from my home, my dad waited for that man to come out from his appointment, and inquired if there was a family connection. And there was. As they talked, my dad flipped open his wallet and flipped through photos of my kids, and this old White man and this old Black man who didn't know each other from Adam, stood together in that doctor's office and laughed together about the irony of meeting in that office, and smiled over photos of brown children they were both related to by blood. By blood. People can change. My father sure changed. And loved. This Occupy Democrats photo from 1960 is horrific.....but it is 62 years old, and it's sole purpose in the present AS IT IS USED HERE is to stir up strife and fear and hate and division based on assumption. I'm not going to give such messages an easy pass when I encounter them. I have seen change in my own life. And I love. My friends. My husband. My children. My family. THIS is my community of ALL ethnicities. Change is possible. Change, for many, has already happened. We can remain stuck, or we can help change happen.
At Greg's memorial service. Just a thought: Sure were a lot of White folks who turned out to celebrate Greg's life, reminisce, and send his ashes on his final kayak ride. (Yep....I'm goin' there.) Guess there's a lot more love goin' on in this country than people think.
Memorial for my friend Greg Green:
"Greg Green, a long-time Cheat and Yough river guide and a pioneering whitewater photographer, died on June 22nd. He was 76. He was the first African American paddler in the area; very skilled and likeable. Green’s Hole on the Old Cheat
(pre’85flood)was named for him."https://jeffmacklin.smugmug.com/Whitewater/2022/2022-07-14-Greg-Green-Memorial/
The first time I met Greg was in Pennsylvania, as the partner of my long-time friend, Becky Hilton. He had a photography business on the river, taking shots of people as they ran rapids on the New River in West Virginia. I was visiting for the weekend. I'd never been rafting.
"Hey Sue," he said. "Wanna run the river tomorrow?"
"REALLY??!! YES!!!!" I shouted.
The next day I went with Becky and two other women in a raft. Greg put on in his kayak. All were river runners, except me. One woman manned the center-mount oars. Thank God they knew what they were doing because I was clueless. But, I could follow directions.
We were on the river for hours, and it was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life up until then. I fell out of the raft in one gnarly rapid and they had to pull me back on board. We arrived back at Becky and Greg's house in the late afternoon, tired, hungry, smelling like river and sun.
"Greg," I said. "Thank you so much. That was sooo much fun!"
"Good," said Greg. "Wanna go again tomorrow?"
I thought he was kidding me.
"Are you kidding me??"
"YES I WANNA GO AGAIN!"
And so we did. That was my introduction to the sport, and to the man. Thank you, Greg Green.
Susan Parlato Revels
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