Solving the world’s problems.

7 10 2003

People tell me that racial tension is a problem in this town. Maybe it is. I haven’t sensed it in personal encounters, but perhaps it lurks in places I don’t go. Junior high was my only real experience with racial conflict. In an effort to desegregate neighborhoods, brilliant politicians decided to bus black students to white schools, and white students to black schools. That was a dumb idea. I don’t think I ever knew what prejudice felt like until I encountered the angry kids who didn’t want to be bussed across town to our school in North Dallas. They didn’t want to be there, and they took out their frustration on us. I learned to fear them. Great lesson in race relations.

I’ve never sensed that kind of anger and frustration here. But if it’s around, as some people tell me it is, I can happily say I’ve found the solution. It’s quite simple, and it might take some time. But it works.

An older couple owns the house next door to ours. They don’t live there, but they come to town from time to time and stay a few days. Recently they called, said they were going to be in town, and asked if we’d join them for lunch after church on Sunday. George, Jacob, and I piled in their backseat, and we headed to Golden Corral, the buffet capitol of Sunday afternoon dinner. That place was hopping.

We sat at a table by the wall. Jacob, then George, then I sat on one side with our neighbors across from us. Shortly after we arrived, a large black family of mulitple generations was seated at the next table directly behind our neighbors. They were dressed in the colorful, Sunday-go-to-meeting fashions that riotously proclaim, “Church is a celebration! Dress like you belong at the party!”

George and I became engrossed in conversation with our neighbors. So I was surprised when I looked up to see a twenty-something-year-old man from the next table approaching and then stopping beside me. We fell silent, and I looked up at him. He was wearing a shirt made of some silky purple fabric. His pants were made of the same. He leaned over, pointed toward Jacob, and asked, “Would it be okay if I gave him a compilation and a picture?”

I stared at him for a moment, probably with a blank expression, because I really didn’t understand his question. “Um, what?” I said, laughing a little, because I felt dense.

He smiled and explained, “I’m a gospel singer. I just want to know if I can give him a compilation CD and photograph of me.”

This time I understood. I returned his smile and said, “Okay, sure. That would be fine.” He left to go out to his car and get it.

I looked at George, and he just shrugged. While the man was gone, I had some time to process what had just happened. I knew Jacob hadn’t spoken to this man. I really couldn’t figure out what would have motivated the offer. So, when he returned, I asked him.

As he handed me the CD and black-and-white 8 x 10, I asked, “Why do you want to give it to him?”

He looked a little shy and sheepish. After a short pause, he said, “It was his smile.” He put his fist to his heart and added, “When you see a smile like that, you just know what’s in here.”

“Thank you so much!” I said, truly touched by the sincerity of this man’s gesture. He sat back down, but kept smiling at Jacob. I handed Jacob the CD and picture. He was thrilled. True, he had no idea who Da Blade was or why he wanted to give him an autographed photo and CD. It didn’t matter. Jacob loves music and presents. For the rest of the meal, he kept looking at the CD cover and saying “Thank you, Da Blade.”

The black family left, waving good-bye to Jacob. And I realized a profound and lovely truth. Jacob is touching lives and removing barriers, one smile at a time.


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6 responses

8 10 2003
ragamuffen

I love when days like that play out in our life. They make us so mindful of the reasons we are all here, truly.

I bet Jacob does have a nice smile.

xoxo

8 10 2003
jeannedamoff

reasons to marvel

The thing about Jacob’s smile is that it’s guileless. His brain injury robbed him of the ability to wear masks. But it still amazes me when a stranger can see that from across a room.

8 10 2003
ilitherian

i want to hear that cd…

love,
luke

8 10 2003
jeannedamoff

It’s a compilation of half a dozen gospel rap artists. You can hear it next time you be in da house, homey. You down wid dat? A’ight.

23 10 2003
nongoddess

I can just hear jacob now!
I’m in sunday school with him… we eat donuts together. It’s the best part of my sunday morning.

with love
Kelly Mills

24 10 2003
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Kelly. But do me a favor . . . put a muzzle on him after a couple of donuts! :o)

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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