One of my childhood joys was riding my bike through the back roads of Spotsylvania County. Sometimes, my cousins, my brothers and I would ride together. I’ll never forget this one particular summer’s day when I was riding alone. I was slowly pedaling pass a white house with green-trimmed windows. I heard a young voice yell out “Randy! Randy!” From around the corner of the house one of my classmates was excitedly waving ‘hello’. I slowed to a stop and we chatted about how our summer break was going and how we both were wondering who our teachers would be once school starts in several weeks. We were both unapologetic book nerds and the kind of “weird” kids who couldn’t wait to go back to school. Our friendly chat was abruptly cut short when the front door hastily flew open and her angry, red-faced father yelled and ordered her to “Get in the house!”
Growing up as a Black kid in America certainly wasn’t easy. Many people of color could tell you countless stories of walking casually along the country road or city sidewalk and someone yells out a derogatory word from a passing vehicle. When I was a kid I would always wish and hope that things would get better between the races. It seems as though I was always looking for that glimmer of hope.
Nowadays, as I strongly advocate “start with one person at a time”, I wholeheartedly believe that things will get better, and my proof and example of my faith and hope stems from one of many personal life experiences. Remember the young White classmate who I was chatting with on that summer’s day and her racist father told her to “get in the house!”…Well, she had moved away from her racist father and now owns a small independent bookstore near the Virginia-Maryland state line. We still keep in touch, and she proudly has my four books on full display near the entrance of her store, especially ‘Wet Matches’, she says, as it carries the message of “don’t judge anybody.”
We’re in the fall of 2017 and America is seemingly regurgitating history, instead of moving wisely forward and learning from it. My message to everyone (especially to those kids out there who are currently wishing and hoping that things will get better) is to keep doing what you’re doing and please don’t fall into the trap of negativity. There are far more positive people in this world than negative ones, and you’re certainly one of the good ones. And that glimmer of hope for a better world will come from you. – Randolph Randy Camp