In God’s eyes, ‘we’re all brothers and sisters’
I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, and I went to an all-white elementary and high school. I didn’t think about race because all I knew was white people.
In 1967, I attended a technical school in Pittsburgh. It was all-white. At that time, I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t till years later, I realized why.
It was segregated.
After school, I joined the Navy. In boot camp, I met my first Black man.
The drill instructor assigned him as company commander because he was a college graduate. I was assigned 1st platoon leader because of being in the high school band, so we had to work together.
We became friends. We never talked about race. We just did our work.
I was sent to Vietnam in 1970 and was assigned to a river supply boat. After nine months, our boat was sent back to the U.S. We had to move into a barracks, and I met my second Black man.
His name was the same as mine, and we became friends. After the Navy, while looking for a school, I visited him in Philadelphia.
Toward the end of my tour, I was assigned to a boat in dry dock. Our craftmaster was from our old boat, and he made me deck boatswain’s mate. We were assigned new seamen, and I met my third Black man.
He was a hard worker, but I knew our craftmaster was a racist. We could see he had a disdain for him. One day, they both got into an argument, and the craftmaster decided to write him up.
The seaman came to me and asked what to do. I told him to go see our chief petty officer and tell him what happened. The chief then talked to me, and I told him what the craftmaster was like.
The seaman was cleared and the craftmaster was taken off the boat.
After Vietnam, I used the GI Bill to go to photography school. The school was very diverse, and I got to know a lot of Blacks, and I was invited into their homes.
The big question is, are you “not racist or antiracist?”
Are you willing to stand up to injustice or just ignore it?
I learned in my years of experience that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s eyes.