People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17(NIV)
Cherry was my first friend. My grandma and I were strolling around the neighborhood, and we happened upon this sweet girl playing in her front yard. She had the biggest smile. It was Cherry. Because my dad had recently lost his job, we’d moved into the neighborhood. There were five mouths to feed, and rent to pay. So, my grandparents generously allowed us to move in with them.
My grandpa remodeled the single-car garage to accommodate my mom and dad, along with me and my two brothers. In addition to our family of five, grandma, grandpa, and my aunt also lived there. Eight humans lived in that house with only one bathroom. Now that’s a lotta love.
It was the early 1960’s, so even though racial tensions were rampant, I was only four years old. When I saw this girl with the great big smile, I knew I’d found a friend. We played together nearly every day. Sometimes we had dolls as props, sometimes only our collective imaginations. I just remember it was fun and that the air was filled with lots of little girl giggles.
Then, one day after making the short trek around the corner to Cherry’s house, her mom answered the door. She told me I was no longer welcome there, because my family was “white trash”, a term I’d never heard before.
I never figured out why my family was considered “white trash”. Maybe, it was because we lived in a garage in the neighborhood. Or, maybe it was my Peppermint Patty stringy hair, and second-hand clothes; a regular ragamuffin. I just knew that because of circumstances beyond my control, my family was thought less than others.
I didn’t know anything about racial injustice. I just knew I missed my sweet friend with the great smile. And, that made me very sad.