When 24-year-old Laura went to announce to her parents she was pregnant, she steeled herself for the confrontation. She was going to confess her sins that day. For in the eyes of many she had committed the ultimate sin—much greater than being single and pregnant—she was white and pregnant by a black man.
My mother was right to worry; my grandmother reacted in horror at the news of my conception. She yelled "How could you shame us like this?" and cried "What will people think?" My grandfather sat back, chuckled and said, "Well you made your bed." He took it all in stride.
Racial integration wasn't an issue in my mother's hometown of Virginia, Minn. There weren't any black people and just a few Native Americans. For my grandparents, change came in the form of a visiting black construction worker who dated their oldest daughter. Together, Ellis and Laura created me. When I arrived in 1978, my grandmother adapted to change, opened her heart and loved me. They doted on me.
Change, like time, has no care for how you feel or if you are ready for it. It shows up when it wants and makes itself known. We must choose what we will do with the changes we are handed. We can fear it, pout, stomp and whine for no good reason, or we can embrace it with grace.
As a state and a country, we are experiencing many changes. These changes are coming whether people like them or not. Making bogus laws to trample on people's rights won't stop the oncoming tide of change.
LGBT people aren't going back into the closet. Disabled people aren't going to stay tucked away, so it's time to accommodate. People of color expect to be recognized and represented as equal parts of our society and aren't going to shut up about it. Women want equality, and that's not changing. Our undocumented brothers and sisters are here to stay. White people aren't the majority for much longer.
The 1950s aren't coming back.
I often think of my grandparents and all we would have lost if they had let fear and bigotry rule them rather than love. My hope is we will move forward in love of humanity and not making decisions out of fear of the unknown. Until we get there, allow me to daydream while listening to Sam Cooke: "It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come."
Yep, it's coming, y'all.