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American History: Separate Pasts By Melton Alonza Mc Laurin

1933 words - 8 pages

While reading through the pages of “Separate Pasts: Growing up in the Segregated South” the author gives many details of his life growing up in the village of Wade. There are several things noticed during the course of this book, one can almost hear McLaurin tell the stories of his past and reading the words I could tell he was at times curious. But there were also times of guilt for the way he was brought up to treat the “blacks” of wade. McLaurin also had respect and sometimes it seemed he was envious of some of the black people he came in contact with. There were also times of depression within his own family. We will revisit some of his stories and reflect on some of ...view middle of the document...

But he was reminded quickly that he was above the black kids he grew up with. A specific story he told was a time he and some other kids, some black and some white, played basketball and the ball had to be aired up every half hour or so. He and two of his friends, one they called Bobo a black boy, went to air up the ball, McLaurin gave Bobo the needle used to put air in the ball and Bobo spit on it so it would go into the ball a bit easier. McLaurin removed the needle and put it in his mouth, only then he remembered that Bobo had just spit on it. This brought out the extreme racial prejudices in him, but this feeling made him feel bad and almost guilty for the way he felt when this happened. The violent emotional response he had knowing that segregation was such a powerful force made him question what adults in his life had taught him in the years he was growing up.
There were also times that McLaurin was almost envious of some of the black people he met along the way as he grew up. An example of one of these times was a man he just called Street. Street was an older man that did work for McLaren’s family from time to time; he seemed to have a profound curiosity for knowledge. Street was an honest man that had a genuine concern for others. Street was also a modest man living in a cave he had built on a piece of land that was given to him by a Mr. Oscar because “he admired Streets sincerity and tenacity.” Others in the village of Wade thought of Street as being crazy, but McLaurin new better because he spent time around him and enjoyed listening to him talk and tell stories about things he has learned over the years. Street especially enjoyed talking about God and quoted Bible verses he had learned through the years of being a Jehovah’s Witness. McLaurin at times it seemed admired Street because he was free of really everything, Street did not need a lot of material things and he had a never ending thirst for knowledge, which he shared with whoever would listen.
There were also times McLaurin felt lust as a lot young men did but his lust was for a particular women that was forbidden in the segregated South at this time in history. Even though interracial relationships were taboo, it was not uncommon for white men to have sex secretly with a black women but for a white women to have sex with a black man was less common. The women McLaurin fantasized about was an older black woman named Jessie Florence McAllister; he thought she was the sexiest women he had ever seen. But there was one girl that was the same age as him that made wish things were different, her name was Betty Jo McAllister, Jessie’s younger sister. At the time he did not know the significance the relationship between he and Betty Jo would have on him later in his life, he just knew he liked her.
Even though segregation was common place in these times, many white people felt guilty because they “understood the moral implications of the...

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