Recent events have brought this memory to mind. It happened about this time last year.
Eating some breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant the other day when a local approached.
“You that photographer up at the dairy barn?” The locals call The Jacksonville Center “the dairy barn.”
“Where you from?”
“Nah. I don’t mean where you’re living now. Where you from?”
“No shit. Graduated from FCHS in ’65.”
“Then what are you doing with them hippies up at the dairy barn?”
“Making new friends. You should try it some time.”
He muttered something obscene and left, leaving me to finish my pork loin and eggs and wonder why, after all these years, it still matters so much whether or not someone is “from here.”
This is a country founded by people who were all from somewhere else. We moved in on the people who were “from here” at the time, pushing them off their lands because we felt we had some God-given right to do so.
Will Rogers, who was part Cherokee, used to tell the story about the woman who bragged to him that “my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“That’s nothing,” Rogers replied. “Mine met the boat.”
It shouldn’t matter where someone is from. What should matter is that they are here, making a home and becoming part of the community.
Yet, to some, it still does matter.
That’s a shame.
There’s a lesson here for all who choose to heed. Unfortunately, some are so blinded by their own hate and prejudice that they will not see it. That’s their loss.