While writing a post for Veterans Day, my mind went back to those days when I thought I had the world by the tail. Like Wonder Woman, I would use my force of will to bend others to face the reality that even though I was female, I was a capable, thinking adult primed and ready to succeed in my chosen place, New York City, assuming that people there would be more open to hiring me.
It was 1971 and I had just completed three years as a Marine Corps officer although I hid that fact from all but prospective employers. As a backlash to the bitterness of Vietnam, there was such hatred of all things military that you didn’t dare reveal your background to just anyone. I wasn’t ashamed of being in the military, but rather very discreet about whom I told.
Hey, I had survived being discriminated against in a “good Christian” college. Because I was from the south, I was obviously prejudiced against blacks and was obviously a person to be loathed. Ironically, it was the “good Christians” from the north who taught me my first lessons in discrimination against myself and blacks.
Oddly enough, I had rarely seen or heard of discrimination at home. My parents and church taught me that the right way to live was to shine the light of Christ for all people to see, giving them the same love and appreciation that Jesus would have, to everyone, no matter what or who.
Now in 1971, I was establishing my own path and home still carrying those beliefs despite all the nastiness the world could dish. While job hunting in the Big Apple, one interview was unforgettable. Putting my best foot forward, I sat before the prospective employer who looked at me and said, “Little lady, let’s just get a couple of things straight. First of all, I can’t hire you because our headquarters is in Atlanta and our people won’t work with a female. Secondly, if I did hire you, I wouldn’t pay you the same as I pay my men”.
Needless to say, I left rather hurriedly without a job, but I did walk the thirty or so long city blocks, tears streaming, returning to the head hunter’s office to ask them why they would send me there for an interview. They were mortified, but the damage was done. The pain of that day focused like a laser all the other days when the world turned its ugly on me and from which I had, supposedly, successfully walked away.
If we are such a good Christian nation, why are we preaching in our actions and words the message of intolerance and hate? If Christ had love for one and all without discrimination, why don’t we? It’s even sadder that this message is being passed to our children and they are learning it very well.