Race Relations and Ice Cream

Race RelationsThird Grade was a lifetime ago. Anything before the age of 10 seems like forever.

Yet, there are instances, moments or experiences burned, vividly into my memory. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am sharing one with you.

It was a Monday morning. One of my classmates, at Fieldston School, was talking with few friends about her weekend. Pretty common stuff in third grade, but not in this case.

Her parents had taken her to a public event… maybe it was a county fair or something similar. On that, my memory is foggy. What I remember, clearly, was spoken by my friend.

“They would let my mommy in, but they wouldn’t let me daddy in. So we went away.”

~ Mary

I didn’t understand… she explained her mother was white and her daddy was black. I still didn’t comprehend the problem and was uncomfortable asking.

After school, I went home and recounted the discussion to my mother, asking for an explanation and wisdom.

“God made people in many colors. Like flavors of ice cream. They’re  different, but they are all good. Some people don’t understand that differences in skin color are not uncommon. And you should look at all people as ‘just like you’, no matter what the color of their skin.”

~ My mom

Armed with my ice cream metaphor, I have made my way through life with a pretty pure outlook, thanks to my mom. As a child of the 60’s, I grew up smack in the middle of the civil rights movement and came to understand that not all people were as open-minded as my mother… or me.

More than 50 years later, I can see how far we’ve moved forward as a country… and on some days how little we’ve advanced.

Thinking back on Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, there is one passage that always resonates with me.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whenever I hear or am reminded of that passage, I feel like Dr. King was talking about my classmate, Mary. After third grade, I changed schools, and soon lost touch with most friends from Fieldston School

Through the magic of Facebook and the Internet, I have rediscovered Mary. I haven’t been in touch with her to share this memory. It still feels like a private experience to me.

I can tell you this… Mary’s life and career have been rich and accomplished in service to humankind.  

Andy Ebon
First Generation New Yorker

Timing of Appreciation is Key

Not too long after my mom passed away, my dad initiated a conversation with me about updating his will. Daddy met with his accountant, and had decided it would be wise to give certain gifts, immediately, and not wait until he passed away.

Sons and daughters often have difficulty talking about the eventual death of a parent. I mostly listened to my dad, but he wanted to understand why, and get my approval.

The accountant said something that resonated.

“Martin, sometimes it’s better to give with a warm hand.”

The reasons are not financial or selfish in any way. He explained the reasons for giving each financial gift and personal appreciation. He wanted people to know his appreciation, personally, not after-the-fact. And, in receiving a gift, it enabled the recipient to acknowledge it.

Receiving a gift of any type is a warm experience; however, acceptance when it’s not possible to acknowledge it is an empty feeling. It made good sense to me.

Baseball Hall of Fame

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Time of Appreciation

Buck O’Neil

The Negro Baseball Leagues existed as a parallel universe in days of segregation in America. Even as an avid baseball fan, I only had a vague knowledge of the Negro Leagues which thrived before my time.

It wasn’t until Ken Burns’ 1994 PBS Documentary, Baseball, that some of the blanks in my historical baseball knowledge filled in. I learned how the sport of baseball moved West, with the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers moving to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.

In the wake of their departure, there was the birth of the New York Mets which greeted me as a young baseball fan.

Among the many people, moments, and events the documentary was Buck O’Neil, first baseman and manager in the Negro Leagues, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. Buck was ebullient in sharing his memories of those days.

In fact it was O’Neil was a driving force behind building the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

Sadly, the Baseball Hall of Fame didn’t have the good sense to honor him during his 95 years of life. It was only after his passing that accolades, long-earned, flowed his way. Buck was always gracious, but timing is important… and major league baseball whiffed on this one.

The Passing of Stuart Scott

This weekend, ESPN Air Personality, Stuart Scott, passed away after a 7-year battle with cancer. Stu was a ground breaking broadcaster, from a style standpoint. He brought personality, catch-phrase, and and over ebullient tempo to Sportscaster broadcast and live event telecasts.

Last July 16th, ESPN broadcast its ESPY Awardsand offered an all-time moment, honoring Stuart Scott  with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. The award and the V Foundation for Cancer Research were inspired by former college basketball coach, Jim Valvano, who passed away some 22 years ago. It was Valvano’s speech at the ESPY’s, so long ago, punctuated by the words…

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
~ Jim Valvano

… which moved so many people, creating a massive ripple effect.

2014 ESPY Awards

Scott was in the hospital, immediately preceding the awards, and it was uncertain whether he would be able to attend. He summoned the energy through force of will and forged an acceptance with maximum impact.

Acknowledging people on a small scale for simple things, on the main stage for specific accomplishments, lifetime achievements, or anything in-between are all important acts.

It’s sensible not to expect accolades, but be thankful when they happen. In counterpoint, it rests on all of us, as individuals, friends, customers, business people, organization and community leaders to share appreciation and do our damnedest not to leave anyone out.

Andy Ebon
First Generation New Yorker[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Gratitude Challenges on Facebook

Gratitude ChallengesI began posting about gratitude, two and a half years ago. All kinds of stories; many angles… longer than today’s gratitude challenges on Facebook.  The FB gratitude  quickies have inspired a different way for me express myself on this blog. Short and sweet!

The last 10 days have been explosive in so many ways.  I’ll do my utmost to brief.

  1. I am privileged to be friends with the Jacob family, Fred, Donna and Allison. And accompanying other industry friends, Don Freedman and Jennifer Judy Fyffe, to visit their newly minted Pink Bridal Show to offer observations and constructive suggestions to make their grand event, even better.
  2. I am fortunate being part of the WeddingWire Education Team (3 months now) and visit my 27-year home of San Francisco to give a presentation to wedding industry professionals, old and new.
  3. Saw so many friends, including one of my personal inspirations, author-speaker, Susan RoAne.
  4. Many times, we hear the phrase, “Tomorrow is not promised.” Nothing could have been more accurate during the past week. The rapid decline of our dog, Ray Charles Jr., took place within a matter of days. Without warning, I must look back to appreciate his soul and playfulness, his part in our home, for both Jessica and me, and all who passed through our front door.
  5. And my love, Jessica, who would run through a wall for friend, as she tried to for Ray. In the end, she was able to make the tough decision, to put him down, so he would not suffer… all that, in my absence. Somehow, she summoned the strength to do what must be done.
  6. Facebook has been pretty rocky, this year, with its update filters, both for personal and business pages. But happily, when I posted about the tragic loss of Ray, we received hundreds of condolence messages, filled with concern and kindness. Truly surprising.

It has been a flurry of extremes, and thought I could write more, I said I’d be brief.

Hope you had experiences to be grateful for, too.

Andy Ebon
First-Generation New Worker