Nightmares

It’s funny how your mind works when you have a little down time.

The girls and I were enjoying a trip to Panama City Beach, filling our days with waves and sand, a little mini golf, time at the pier, and travels to nearby Seaside and Rosemary Beach. Maybe because we jam-packed our vacation with fun, I found myself experiencing bizarre dreams when my head finally hit the pillow at night.

One nightmare in particular stood out, and I couldn’t shake it. Finally, it dawned on me that this unpleasant dream carried a taint of truth.

In my dream, I uncovered a family secret that my maternal grandmother’s family had been slave owners. As the dream played out, I struggled to put this history into place. I tried to explain to people who, after learning this secret, asked how I could possibly claim to be Edwina’s friend and advocate when I came from such a prejudiced past.

I awoke shaking off the absurdity of the nightmare. But then, a reality that I often push to the side slid in to take its place.

My grandmother, and her brothers and sisters, were racist in the extreme. All my life, I heard them utter slurs that even at a young age seemed shameful to me. My mom used to say that that’s the way my grandmother and her siblings were raised. Fortunately, my parents offered a very different example, always teaching me to treat people with respect.

When I was old enough to begin dating, my grandmother would tell me not to ever bother coming around with “any boyfriends who were N______.” All black people were the same in her book, and by same, I mean all of the worst assumptions that can be made about a person.

As we drove home from the beach and the girls slept in the car, I filled the silence with thoughts about the memories behind my nightmare. I wondered why I’d never thought about this side of my grandmother in all the time I’ve known Edwina, Lumon, Roderick, Lisa and others.

I guess I’ve been focused on the friends I’ve met and not on the color of their skin.

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