The Yin and Yang Of Us All

26 Dec

My dad and his parents

My parents were racists.

I don’t know of any way to sugarcoat that fact.

They were, without a doubt, products of their upbringing and the atmosphere in which they lived, but that’s like saying they were only Level Four Racists as opposed to Level Five, the really bad racists.

The weird thing is, I didn’t really notice it until I made it to college.  I was simply unaware of their racism as I blithely frolicked my way through adolescence.  But once in the hallowed halls of higher education, this being in the late 60’s, it became painfully obvious, all too quickly, that my parents were lilly-white to the bone, lower-income Irish mutts who looked down upon anyone else of “color.”

It seems odd to say this, but that’s just the way things were back then.

I’ve written often of the admiration I had for my father.  He was the most influential person in my life, and much of who I am today is because of who he was and how he raised me . . . much of who I am, but not all of who I am, and it is essential to realize that fact.

It’s complicated!

We are complicated!

And I always try to remember that fact when I’m writing and creating characters.

People are complicated!

We are not one-dimensional creatures.  There is some good in all of us.  There is some bad in all of us.  The Yin and Yang of the human spectrum, in each of us, a constant struggle, which will win the final battle, no holds barred, may the best quality win.

It would be easy for me to condemn my parents for their racism, but if I do that I’d better be prepared to take a long look in the mirror at myself.

I also try to remember that when I’m writing and creating characters.

We humans have depth.

A good writer understands that.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

23 Responses to “The Yin and Yang Of Us All”

  1. Janine Huldie December 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    Great reminder and do agree we are all just human doing are best with this and so much more. Happy Tuesday and losing you the best week ahead once again now 🙂

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

      Thank you Janine! Let’s close out 2017 with a great week, my friend.

  2. Alan Figliola December 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    blithely frolicked….. what …LOL

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      I think I pulled a muscle frolicking. 🙂

  3. Carol Stanley December 26, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    I don’t remember exactly how my parents felt. Though I do remember one incident that silently expressed their feelings. Another thing I do remember is that many restaurants did not allow people of color and I saw a nice family being refused service.

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks for sharing that, Carol! It was interesting, growing up at that time, and now seeing the changes in the way we live as a community.

  4. manatita44. December 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    You have re-surfaced, Bro. Merry Christmas once more and hope that you have a great year. Leave those things for others. They definitely have their value, but you and I, we are moving on… to Love. have a great day!

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

      Moving on for sure, Manatita! Big plans for 2018. Now all I have to do is work hard and stay alive. 🙂 Peace be with you always.

  5. Sageleaf December 26, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

    Big Bro, you know…I could say the same about my parents and they’re living. They’re good people, and my mom’s Latina, but we definitely have had some rows about this topic. It’s funny, too. It’s my parents’ “fault” that I’m so left-leaning – haha.

    My mom fed homeless people at our house. She adopted a special needs kiddo into the family. She employs folks of all nationalities. She’s housed people from Jamaica to Guatemala, South Korea, Puerto Rico and many other places.

    I had a world-class upbringing and I didn’t even have to leave home. But my parent are also products of their time. They’re octogenarians and my mom actively chose to leave her Mexican roots behind – and one reason I wanted to learn Spanish and acknowledge my Mexican and Native American heritage, even though I don’t have a lot genetic-wise (because of my being adopted…I’m sort of “watered down” haha).

    I guess I can gently show by example that “others” are not a threat and that colors of the human race are just that: beautiful shades of human. I’ve learned so much more about the insidiousness of racism and how its undercurrent still informs how we do things today: from building interstates (and locating them in poor black neighborhoods, not the white upper class suburbs) to red-lining, to education, to…so many things.

    I suppose through awareness we can work to break down the barriers that separate us. (I apologize if you end up seeing multiple comments. I changed some settings in my browser and it’s making me sign in and out a few times for whatever reason, haha. Gotta love technology.)

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      Lil Sis, thanks for sharing all that. Your comment perfectly depicts people of that time and generation…so much kindness and goodness in them, but also an undercurrent of racism that cannot be denied. Fascinating, really. I’m with you, of course. Over time, ever so slowly, we are changing the world, but man alive, I sure with we could speed up the process a bit.

  6. Andrea Stephenson December 26, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

    My parents weren’t overtly racist, so I remember being shocked when, after a boy I knew who was black called at my door for me, my mother questioned what people would think if ‘people like that’ came to the door (this was in the mid-80s). But it is true that we all have good and bad qualities and our characters would be less interesting if we didn’t reflect that.

    • Billybuc December 26, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      It’s a great example, Andrea, and I thank you for telling us that anecdote. It is fairly typical, I’m afraid, but awareness is huge, and with each generation we see less of it . . . or so I hope.

  7. 1authorcygnetbrown December 27, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    You are right, we are complicated which is why we need to produce characters that are complicated as well if we want them to be someone with whom the reader can identify.

    • Billybuc December 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      Right on as always, Donna! Thank you and Happy New Year to you!

      • 1authorcygnetbrown December 27, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

        Happy New Year!

      • Billybuc December 27, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

        and the same to you, Donna!

  8. phoenix2327 December 27, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

    Wow. I am really amazed to hear that about your parents, Bill. I understand what you’re saying. They were a product of their times and it’s unfair to judge them by today’s criteria. But you’re right. We are complicated beings and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find pockets of prejudice, selfishness and spite in even the best of us. It shouldn’t, but it does.

    Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year. 🙂

    • Billybuc December 27, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you Zulma! What’s perhaps more disturbing, to me, is that I didn’t even recognize it for what it was. Thank God for college!

      Happy New Year dear friend.

      • phoenix2327 December 27, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

        Of course, you didn’t. I imagine your parents’ friends, neighbours and associates were the same way so it seemed normal to you. You had nothing to compare it to until you went to college and broaden your social circle. You shouldn’t be disturbed. You should be thankful you eventually saw it for what it was and forged your own path to understanding and acceptance.

        I wonder. Did you parents realise they were racist?

      • Billybuc December 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

        I wonder that too, Zulma! I’ll never know. 🙂

  9. Sarah Potter Writes December 29, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    It is that generation. I think it was ingrained into many of them and was as much a part of them as breathing. They probably didn’t even realise that it was wrong, although would have been heartily disturbed by anyone showing racism towards them, and yet would probably not have seen a connection between the two. Yes, you are right. People are complicated, Bill, which gives authors so much to explore in the the characters they create.

    Have you read the novel “Small Island” by Andrea Levy? I would recommend it highly, as a study in prejudice against Jamaicans who emigrated to Britain after the World War 2, having fought alongside our servicemen and helped them win the war!

    • Billybuc December 29, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

      I have not read it, Sarah, but I trust you. Thanks for the recommendation and the insightful comment. I hope you had a nice Christmas. Happy New Year to you, my friend.

      • Sarah Potter Writes December 29, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

        I had a very busy Christmas, doing lots and lots of singing, but my voice held up, and then I eventually sat down to a lovely peaceful Christmas dinner.
        Happy New Year to you, dear Bill.

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