By Angela Markwalter
Being a southern gal, I have been unfairly accused all too often by those who are ignorant, of being racist just because of my geographical location and heritage. This is actually hilarious given the fact that I have often found myself more comfortable in the company of those of a different race or culture. I have grown immensely due to my exposure to the fascinating cultures and customs of those whose skin just happens to differ from the color of my own. And this is thanks to my extremely southern parents who taught me that everyone has value no matter what their skin color, religious preference, or sexual proclivites.
My father, who once marched for civil rights before Martin Luther King began preaching, and my mother, whose best friend in high school was gay, taught me to appreciate the differences and learn from them, in a very subtle way. They taught by example. I cannot remember a time when our home was not open to all races and cultures. My parent’s home is now filled with a lifetime of wonderful mementos of the fabulous relationships shared with people from all over the world. Buried in a drawer somewhere, my mother has a wonderful Lebanese shawl decorated with gold threads, castanets from my sister’s Hispanic Godmother, fabric handwoven in Guatemala….the list goes on and on. More importantly, our lives have been enriched by the many different experiences we have shared just by opening up our hearts.
My parents never had to tell me not to use the ‘n’ word. I did not even know the words existed until I was in middle school and even then did not understand the significance. All because my parents taught me to love.