It could be a wonderful world

Let me tell you about my anger towards my parents. They taught me that we were all equal.

With similar-thinking parents, they created a special Sunday school to teach us children moral values. We sang songs like:
- Close your eyes and point your finger, On the map just let it linger, any place you point your finger to, there’s someone with the same type blood as you it’s true…
- If we all said a prayer for each other, a friend or a neighbour or brother, it could be a wonderful wonderful world, it could be a wonderful world.

My parents sent me to a very mixed school, and I befriended people, independent of their backgrounds, color, culture or religion.

But my parents neglected to prepare me for the reality of what I was to encounter:
- When my friend across the street refused to be my friend anymore for some unexplained reason, which turned out to be that she was Catholic and I was Jewish.
- When my parents took me and my sister to Indian reservations and we applauded their tribal gear and dances.
- When people complimented me, as they saw it, telling me I didn’t look Jewish.
- When my parents condemned all Germans.
- When relatives jokingly called some people ‘schvartzes’ (black, in Yiddish).
- And, as time passed, when the horrors emerged of segregation in the south; of Emmett Till, the 14 year old boy murdered in 1955, accused of offending a white woman; the Ku Klux Klan, murders, wars against specific populations.

My parents espoused one reality, but they didn’t really help me understand the world as it was. What did they have to say for themselves when I knew what they knew?

Get out there and march for what you believe in! March? I marched. Perhaps if you pixellate a picture of some of the famous marches in the 50s and 60s, you’ll recognize me.

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— Jean Straus, London

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