Extraordinary response — there have been many, but somehow this one moved me in a unique way. It speaks for my mother and her family down in Mississippi. It’s like hearing one of them speaking through you. They used to tell me that I was growing up in a different world where I would have to try to love everybody equally, but that they couldn’t do it. And I remember being sooo confused! But I understand now. And I’m grateful for my friends, but I understand my ancestors, too.

My mother, BTW, left this world somewhat changed after being cared for, lovingly, by the nearly all white staff of the nursing home where she was in hospice. When she started calling the young white guys who she actually allowed to bathe her her “sons,” and worrying about the one who rode a motorcycle “too damned fast all the time,” I knew something profound had happened. The white staff used to follow the ambulance when she had to be taken to the hospital, and would also stop by before and after work to do her hair and make sure she’d eaten BEFORE going back to the nursing home. All the doctors, nurses and EMTs said they had never seen that before. Neither had my mother. So she finally got to meet a few white folks she could trust just before she died.

And yet…her earlier words were also prophetic. I have to be careful. I have to be vigilant. I can’t get complacent. I have beautiful friends, but there are Nazis marching in the street, right? Work to do. Work to do…

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.

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