I had mentioned a couple of times that I learned a true story I had written about one of my experiences growing up in a small southern town ended up in my former college's literary journal. A couple people asked me to post it so I will then i'll give a small explanation. Now mind you I have a moderate disability when it regards to sentence structure, and the professor was very patient in helping me. I am sure the structure of the story could be better. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>\\ Burning I was six years old that late spring night when my parents spoke tensely in the living room. I heard the thump of my step dads boots as he hastily pulled them on. Soon after my mothers foot steps made their way to my door. I did not yet know what was wrong as my mother came into my room and told me to get dressed. Wear something dark, she told me. I quickly pulled on my clothes and followed my mother into the living room. She had unbraided her long dark hair and coiled it up into a bun. Her copper skin looked washed out against the black shirt she wore. Her body seemed bare without any beaded jewelry. She looked like another woman all together. Wearing dark clothes, we were all dressed liked we were attending a funeral, rather than some spontaneous outing. Where are we going? I wanted to know. I did not like the grim expression on my parents faces. My mother took me by my hand without answering as she and my step dad led me out the door. In the distance, I could see a red glow in a neighbors yard. It was a good walk away. Mama? I insisted and began to tug at her hand. When we get there, I do not want you to say a word or do anything to attract attention to us. Do you understand? My mothers words were firm but had a nervous edge to them that quieted any more questions from me for the time being. We trekked towards the distant fire in silence. I only began to ask more questions once it came into view. Whats going on ma- Shhh! My mother interrupted. My step dad took my other hand, and we hung back from the crowd that had formed. People had gathered to watch the giant burning cross lit by figures dressed in white robes and masks. My mothers hand tightened in mine, and her anxiety reverberated through me. Some people watched silently while others grinned at the sight with empty non-reflective eyes. One man spoke of things that I did not understand. I gazed up at my step dad, who had a blank expression on his face but the same hardening of his jaw that he would get when he was angry. I then turned to gaze at my mother, who kept the same blank expression over her chiseled Cherokee features. I could see the fire light glittering in her black eyes. We stayed and watched the fire burn for what seemed like eternity before we finally walked home. My parents stayed quiet for a long time. I somehow knew I should wait for them to speak first. Something grave had just happened. Finally, my step dad broke the silence as we picked our way through the hay field. Do you know what you just saw? I shook my head in response. My mother sighed, You saw an act of hate, she said. What do you mean? I asked. Those people in white were burning that cross to show their hate for other people. Especially people like us. People of other colors and religions, she replied I dont understand, I said. I dont either, my mother replied, but it is something you will have to face growing up. We stopped at our door step, and both of my parents turned to smile at me with love, the opposite of hate. I looked down at my pale hand enfolded in my mothers darker one. The rest of my life I would have to balance between being able to pass as white or celebrate my mothers heritage. I made my choice then. I would not always take the easier path. It was a choice that later would affect how such people treated me in a small southern town. It was a huge lesson to learn at 6 years, old but it was an important one. That late spring night, I learned about hate. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I already had behavioral problems due to abuse which I will not go into, but coupled with being so radically different followed by being openly compassionate towards those who were weaker, or different, I became a target and was bullied so badly I have physical scars. I suffered the most by those of conservative churches around here and as a teenager I despised Christians ( do not jump on me, I am explaining the process I went through to arrive to myself today.) but as I aged I learned not all Christians were like that and while I do not agree with Christianity and the bible I hold no ill will towards Christians and will even attend a church that promotes tolerance. Any way to worship the creator as long as it promotes kindness to others is fine to me. Over time I have grown to accept and look at the views of others even if I find them reprehensible. I understand how those people in white have arrived to their hateful conclusions. I do not agree with it, but I understand why they think that way. We all are not immune from being hated or from hating. We are all struggling, imperfect human beings. Remember that next time we meet someone with whom we strongly disagree.