A Child of A Lesser God

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

I was born in a valley of darkness and shadows. A place where the radiant rays of a summer’s sun could not pierce the unformed hearts of those who thrived on fear and hate and dread. It was a valley that could have been captured in a Norman Rockwell painting of Americana at its very worst, showing bigotry and prejudice on display amidst the muted anguished cries of suffering and grief by brown-skinned children of a lesser God, toiling and struggling simply to exist, and unworthy of God’s grace or blessings.

A CHILD OF A LESSER GOD

By Al Garcia

I was born in a valley of darkness and shadows.  A place where the radiant rays of a summer’s sun could not pierce the unformed hearts of those who thrived on fear and hate and dread.  It was a valley that could have been captured in a Norman Rockwell painting of Americana at its very worst, showing bigotry and prejudice on display amidst the muted anguished cries of suffering and grief by brown-skinned children of a lesser God, toiling and struggling simply to exist, and unworthy of God’s grace or blessings. 

I was born beneath the shadows of intolerance, racism and bias.  To some, I was a child without a voice, without a choice, but to accede to those of the right color, the right God, and those with unyielding power and arrogance.  I was a child of the times -- too young to speak up, but old enough to see the hardship and acceptance in my parents’ eyes, and in those of others of my kind and color.  How could a child like me begin to understand or comprehend why some looked down on us with pity and disdain?  But even I could sense, at that young and innocent age, the apathy, the coldness, and the hurt of being a child of a lesser God. 

It is hard to imagine that such a time and such a place existed in my lifetime.  It is even harder to attempt to erase the memories or sooth the open wounds, or hide the ugly scars that to this day blemish my heart and soul.  It is hard to envision a time when I was led to believe that I was a child of a lesser God – inferior and servile because of the color of my skin, and a heritage rooted in reverence for the soil, the air, the wind and the golden rays of sun.

Yet, despite the early lessons of having to endure the grief and hardship of recognizing my place in an America that did not acknowledge me, and in a valley that despised me, my parents gave me love and hope, and instilled in me a desire to achieve and to succeed in spite of the obstacles of color, of discrimination, of segregation and of bigotry.  I was taught to respect, to appreciate, to listen and to learn. 

And I did, like so many before me had and would – I persevered.  I learned to be stronger, to work harder, to reach higher to grasp the golden ring, and to survive.  I learned to accept the pain and the hardships as part of my heritage, my legacy, and part of growing up brown.  I learned quickly that being born free and under the banner of the red, white and blue did not assure me acceptance nor approval.  It was not a matter of where I was born that assured me respect and acceptance, but who I was born to, the color of my skin, and the origin of my lineage or pedigree. 

How strange to come back to the valley that once ignored me and abused me.  A place where once I saw and heard and lived the life that was allowed of me and nothing more.  And it saddens me to recall my world back then.  But despite the harshness and intolerance of the times, I still remember priceless moments, and I still possess precious memories that defined my childhood and my early years in the valley along the Rio Grande.  Each moment and each memory that I recall is of family and of love.  It is hard to understand how one can be taught to love, to respect and to appreciate those around you in a world and in a place that does not accept you, recognize you, or want you.  Yet that is what my parents did.  And I learned well.

How could people have betrayed me?  Why would someone shun another human being for simply being of a different race, religion, ethnicity or color?  What would make someone tell anyone “You don’t belong here,” or “We don’t want you here”?  These are questions that I have been unable to find answers to in the many years that I have lived.  And even now, comfortable, retired and as self-assured and content as I feel, I find myself still hearing and still seeing vestiges of that long-ago time in the valley of shadows reemerge in words and in actions by some who have not learned the lessons of history, nor accepted the teachings of their faith, of human kindness or acceptance. 

It is hard growing old and remembering what was, and thinking of what could have been.  But harder still is having been made to feel I was a child of a lesser Gold, and remembering the loneliness and isolation of being made to feel inferior even before I had a chance to grow and blossom.

It is inspiring to see and feel the change that has occurred in the valley of my roots, and the place that sowed the outline of my heart and soul.  I sense a new energy and a fresh resolve to build and to shape a new valley, without forgetting the hardships and mistakes that were made and lived when I was young and experiencing the hard knocks of life in an intolerant and unaccepting society.

I see a new wave of aspiring young minds that are gathering strength and knowledge in schools and universities throughout the Valley, where once they would have been in fields and orchards toiling under the hot Texas sun.  And deep down, I wonder if today’s generation understands or even remembers the struggles and the sacrifices that their parents and grandparents withstood and endured to make possible this moment in their lives

I will always be a child of the valley where I grew up.  I will always remember the hurt and the ache that I felt and that I lived while growing up.  I will also remember the moments and the people that inspired and nurtured me along the way.  But most of all, I will never see myself or be made to feel again, that I was a child of a lesser God. 


Submitted: May 23, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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