Thursday, March 6, 2014

Black Dad--White Dad: The James Womack Story "Where Is it?" is What I Want to Know!

Separate "white" and "colored" entrances
 to a cafe in 
Durham, North Carolina, 1940
The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow"
 has often been attributed to "
Jump Jim Crow",
a song-and-dance 
caricature of blacks
 performed by white actor 
Thomas D. Rice
 in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832
 and was used to satirize 
Andrew Jackson's
 populist policies. As a result of Rice's fame,
 "Jim Crow" had become a pejorative expression
 meaning "Negro" by 1838. When southern
 legislatures passed laws of racial segregation
 – directed against blacks – at the end of the
 19th century, these became
known as Jim Crow laws.

The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States. While Northern segregation was generally de facto, there were patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades.
Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.
These Jim Crow Laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans with no pretense of equality. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Black Dad--White Dad...
The James Womack Story
  Co-author Anna Allen

I finished the last page of "The James Womack Story" and sat there, angry... Where is it? Where is the anger that this man deserves to have? And, if I am a Christian like him, why do I feel so angry on his behalf? Writers should probably realize by now that sometimes I get emotional about some books... So I apologize to James, though not for what I want to say. 

James and I grew up about the same time! What a difference, however... Could I have gone through what he has and still be faithful? I don't think so... I even wondered if, in getting somebody to work with him, Anna Allen, that he needed somebody who could be the unemotional writer--to tell his story, without the negative feelings... Perhaps? I don't know, because all of it sounds so true...  except the parts where you omitted the anger, frustration--the inability to continue to accept what the world has done, no matter what? I wanted it there--I wanted to share it with you... I felt you left out a very important part of the book... Is your faith so much stronger than mine? Of course, it must be. How else can you have survived?

Why aren't you as mad as I am, James? When your beautiful wife was left on the ground that day, why didn't you curse, shout out and...break...why wasn't that the final straw that broke your back? Of course not, because now your love for her keeps you going, taking care of her... I admire you, James Womack...  May your story help many others find the inner strength exhibited in your story.

When I came into the world, the midwife handed
Dad a new baby boy with light brown skin, blue eyes
and a head full of long, straight, black hair.
Because Dad did not understand the miracle by
which God mixes chromosomes and DNA, he took
one glimpse at my blue eyes and straight black hair
and disowned me. I was born, accepted, and
rejected all within the time span of one
minute. Dad handed me straight back to the
midwife. That was the first and last time I felt
the tenderness of his touch. He never touched
me again except to beat my buttocks. The
beatings began when I was around six years old,
which was about the time when I had the
intellectual awareness that he was hurting
Mom. I irritated the hell out of Dad by screaming
when he beat her. He always aimed for her head
with any object he could find...
Dad died without ever giving me a hug, a smile,
a kind word of encouragement or validation of
my existence. His repudiation had a profound
effect on my self-esteem...
Mr. Samson* was a mysteriously diabolical man with many faces and personalities. He was a frugal landowner and businessman by day with a large area of farmland and thirty to forty sharecroppers he directed. When the sun set, his character became more sinister as he quickly transitioned to one of the hooded night riders surrounded by flaming crosses that terrorized sharecroppers who ventured to step out of line. I remember all of that as if it were yesterday.

His voice was unpleasant. We heard it on
the first Friday of every month when he
delivered a five-gallon jug of white
lightning, a colorless brew of homemade
whiskey, to my father. His appearance was
a signal that Dad had to vacate his home
immediately. Mr. Samson had a habit of
bellowing out orders from about three
hundred feet from our home....He never
came close enough for anyone to see his
face, except for Mom.
The amazing thing about James' story was that the actions of the KKK were not the worst part of what Mr. Samson did to the Womack family. He would
provide whiskey to his Dad, who was then forced to leave his home, while Mr. Samson visited...
When the children were older, they were sent away also...but didn't realize...
...My father's actions, and my lack of understanding
left me with deep emotional scars. To endure these
scars required a strong faith. There is an old adage
that you do not find atheists in foxholes. Well, I was
incarcerated in the pit of a  deep, dark insidious
foxhole the day I was born. Emotionally and
intellectually, I dwelled therein for thirty-seven
To get through, I emulated Mom's faith...I learned
from her to sing a joyful song regardless of the
circumstances, but especially when frustrated.

His mother's favorite song was Precious Lord...

At the same time, his father rejected him, his mother was such a woman of faith, that her strength and love obviously became the stronger of the emotions from his parents... It is her faith, accepted by James as true, that undoubtedly has brought him through his life, albeit while facing tremendous odds.

I thought it was ironic that his one fortunate circumstance of falling in love at first sight, also had a negative response...His wife was white and they thus received all of the negative aspects of being an "interracial couple"!

Promises made from recruiting officers, though not fulfilled, resulted in James ultimately becoming a lifer in the military. Then went into Federal Government jobs-- both with discriminatory acts or lies affecting his career. He even had a firm basis, in my opinion, for an anti-discrimination case, having a young white female hired instead of him... but then, I can say that because I know the rules and regulations that existed at that time for Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunities. I know that much was not clear and many used the laws to do what they wanted to do...

His time in Vietnam has been shared more deeply than others that I've read, for which I was grateful, even as it was hard to read... I am sure the comments he shared when he got home was thought, but possibly never spoken: Veterans will appreciate hearing his words.

I did not understand how the American public could
think so little of the soldiers who were doing their duty, and who were defending themselves and their comrades. I felt like I did not understand anything anymore. How could people be so violent toward one another? How could we treat our fellow humans with such total disrespect? How could we not reach out and support each other in such difficult times instead of
criticizing and condemning one another? I could not answer these questions. I could not understand this world of war and I pray that I never do.

There was so much in this book with which I related. James Womack's story has touched me in so many ways. His book ends with his personal testimony of God's place in his life...

It speaks so much of his faith... and triumphant victory...

And yet, he closes, sharing even more, his one regret...

James, I do believe that you will indeed dance with your well as your Heavenly father one day!

Even so, each time I hear Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father," my eyes swell up with tears. The lyrics jog my memory of my earthly treasure embezzled from me through ignorance. If only I could have had one dance with my father. My faith ensures me that I will dance with him in heaven..."

Reading this book has been like attending an old-fashioned revival. If you've been praying for a revival in your spirit, or if you've never known somebody who is indeed victorious in this world we live it... Get this book. 


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