THE ONLY ONE  
(Written-1998)

Last August we went to Detroit for a family reunion.  We arrived a few days early to do some sight seeing.  What stands out the most in my memory is how segregated the attractions we visited were.  While Detroit  has a large African American population, most locations were not a melting pot of Americans.  We went to Belle Island, which reminded me of  Forest Park .  This island park houses a zoo, conservatory, nature center, athletic fields and a large playground.  The large playground was the stop for us.  Kelly and Ryan loved exploring the maze of bridges and slides.  As the kids played, I looked around and noticed that I was the only white person there.  We spent a few hours exploring the island and I never saw another white person.  The next day we drove to the Henry Ford Museum.  Maurice especially enjoyed looking at the old cars and trains.  Guess what?  I could count on one hand the number of black people in attendance.  We sort of moved through white and black worlds all weekend.   

The evening before we went to the Ford Museum, Maurice had told his Aunt (a Detroit resident) our plans.  She strongly encouraged him not to go.  I could hear him on the phone saying something like "it's not that way anymore, we can go anywhere we want."  He feels that we need to go to these places and break these silent barriers. 

We never experienced any problems.  Our small family always had someone who fit into the surrounding culture.  Yet my children never have the opportunity to be in the majority.  Wherever we go, they are the only ones.  The balancing factor is that we move in a variety of circles.  The school they attend is primarily white, yet God blessed us to live on a diverse cul-du- sac.  We attend a church that is primarily black.  Family reunions...black...white.  However when they come to the office of the business we own, they find Whites, Blacks and Hispanics.  The friends we choose are all different.  Our small family moves through these voluntarily separate communities and mixes them up a bit.  While there are no longer visible signs that say "white only," barriers still exist.   

In all fairness I must note that there was one site that attracted a variety of people.  The MOTOWN Museum  .  We all appreciated the music of that era.  Smokey Robinson said in a short movie that the music brought us together.  People  experience similar feelings.  We all love, we all cry, we experience challenges.  We are not so different after all.  Next time you find yourself being the only one, strive to see the sameness.  You'll find that you're not the only one.