I was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1959. My father was a bank teller, grossed $170 per month and we had a maid, a black maid, Lilly May, who effectively lived with us and helped raise me. I loved her and she loved me. We invited her to all family functions like an extended member of our family. She was single though her parents and siblings lived in the greater Columbus area.
My family moved out to Tacoma, Washington in the early 60s. Rented a little house, then after about a year, we bought our first new house. It was a three bedroom, one bath about 1100 square feet on a good sized lot in a terrific neighborhood. I had the perfect childhood in that we had lots of room to play and ride bikes and my Mother was a stay at home Mom. Dad continued working in banking.
My parents were happily married, I never went hungry, attended good public schools, had access to good medical care (our family doctor, George Kittredge, even made house calls!) had a ton of friends and lots to do. I was born in the USA, my parents stayed married my entire upbringing, I lived in classic American suburbia and I felt safe all the time. Sadly my Mother died of cancer at 38, leaving my little brother and sister at the tender ages of 16 and 13 respectively. And while it was a tremendous blow losing her and one frankly that still resonates through our nuclear family even today, we were blessed to have had her in our life and so lucky to have been able to call her Mom.
I graduated high school from W.F. West in Chehalis, attended college, majoring in Economics, at Central Washington University. I married a great girl and we are still married after more than 41 years. We have three kids; Megan, Danny and Amber who in turn have given us five grandchildren.
Was I privileged? Absolutely and for all the reasons I have outlined above and undoubtedly many more. I have quite literally lived the American dream insofar as upbringing and childhood. And I feel no need to apologize to anyone about my “privileged” adolescence, only the need to acknowledge such and thank my parents for my nearly perfect young life.
Being from the South, I have seen racism, but I have lived in the Pacific Northwest and I have seen racism there too. The Deep South does not have a corner on the national market of racism. But I am not a racist. My wife is not racist. My kids are not racist. I want to help further the discussion of race in the US but I will not apologize as a part of this effort. And I will not kneel before any man, white or black. Or brown or yellow for that matter.
Those of us who have been blessed to have been born in the USA are privileged. Look at the protests going on all across this Country. People are free to assemble, protest, and call our President every name in the proverbial book. Any citizen can go on TV and spew hate and frustration or we can go on TV and spread the gospel and talk about love vs hate and good vs evil. As long as we protest peacefully, which obviously has not always been the case, there are no legal repercussions. Our freedoms, our freedom of expression, speech, religion, and more are unbelievably precious. Many thousands of men and women have made many sacrifices to assure that succeeding generations have and enjoy these freedoms. We are all so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to live in the USA. This grand experiment, though far from perfected yet, is still the greatest system that has ever been assembled and built by man. We are a work in process.
Could a citizen insult the leader of China, Iran, N. Korea, or Russia with no repercussions? In the above listed countries, women are discriminated against by US standards horribly and gays are sometimes thrown off buildings upon discovery of their respective sexual orientation. We in America are free to buy billboards, write letters to the editor, go on radio talk shows, walk the streets with profanity-laced posters to share our griefs, beefs, concerns, criticisms, suggestions, allegations on virtually any subject etc and there is never any backlash from the government. Other citizens may object, some vehemently to what ever message of protest is being leveled, but the government, all levels of our government, will not respond negatively or legally so long as the message is delivered peacefully with no one harmed and/or no property damaged.
The United States is far from perfect and the whole world can witness and watch and stand back and snicker at times as we work out our difficulties and struggles in a very visible manner. You would probably not want to have a family argument and ugly disagreements like we do in this country and have the neighbors hear and see the entire transgression as it develops and, hopefully, is somehow and eventually worked out. Such is the nature of the US; it’s messy but we have all accepted and embraced that over the years. Disagreements are encouraged in this country because they can lead to real improvement and new ideas.
I am proud to be an American. I am blessed to have been born here and been raised here. I want every American to enjoy the kind of life I enjoy; good schools, nice home, good neighborhoods, good friends, transparent and effective elected leadership, and perhaps most importantly, equal opportunity and an equal shot at the American Dream. Now I am not so naive as to think they are no impediments for some in this country in the hope and pursuit of achieving the American Dream. But we all have difficulties, nothing worth having should be easy and in fact, most important things in life are not easy. Things like marriage, raising kids, achieving educational goals, buying a home, building a business, being a part of a family are all worthwhile and satisfying and frankly necessary to the total and complete fulfillment of our human spirit. None of these goals are easy but I would submit they are all available with effort and discipline to every American who is willing to pay the price, make the investment of time and effort, and work through struggles and difficulties. Everything in life that is worthwhile is worth working hard to accomplish. And in this country, anything a person decides to set out to achieve is achievable. Henry Ford said “whether you think you can or think you cannot, either way you are correct”.
Thanks for listening.
Rob Hendrix, owner
Cannabis Central of Ellensburg
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide