If Nothing Changes….Nothing Changes

I found this letter to the editor that I wrote in the online USC digital library. Some folks wrote letters in response to this for several weeks after…when I find them I’ll share. Reading this brought me to tears. I could have written this yesterday. We all believed we would be so much further down the road by now. Well I’ve still got some fight left. Bring it. #FightOn

Daily Trojan Thursday September 3, 1981

Student learns hidden racism is not always hidden

By Christy House

A horrible thing has happened to me since I arrived at this university. I have become a racist. I am prejudiced against white people. I grew up in Orange County. My high school was 60 percent white, 35 percent Mexican and five percent other. I only had one black friend. I was very close to him, but I had no real sense of him as being black. I was never faced with the existence of racism until now. Being black, to me, was just like having red hair or blue eyes or any other physical characteristic. As far as I knew, everyone felt that way. USC has taught me that being black is much more than just a color, something all white people need to realize. The feeling in America is that we are on the way to solving racial problems. This couldn’t be more wrong. A recent Los Angeles Times article entitled “Is Social Racism Now Becoming Acceptable?” said “… social racism — the use of a stereotypical phrase or image by whites in casual encounters — has re-emerged with its old vengeance.” The article adds that in the last two years a new climate, called by the author “the new insensitivity,” has become fairly epidemic. The tension between races isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. All you have to do to realize this tension is to take a good, long look at the USC list of organizations. We have a Student Union and a Black Student Union, we have the Greek system and the black Greek system, we have a campus magazine and a black student magazine, etc. Another way to open your eyes is to look closely at people on campus. Walk down University Avenue at 12:30 and what do you see? Groups of black people and groups of white people and It is true that our country represents freedom, but it is tragic that this freedom is used by organizations and men such as the Ku Klux Klan and George Wallace. It is even more tragic that these people often are accepted by the public. If the world were just, the rest of the U.S. populace would rise up at the horrible injustice of the ideals these people preach. But they don’t. Why? ‘We don’t need to worry about the Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan. We know what they advocate. The most dangerous and far-reaching racism is held by people who don’t even know that they are prejudiced.’ never (or rarely) the twain shall meet. In Bimkrant cafeteria at any given meal you see tables of blacks scattered amidst tables of whites. But this isn’t just a university based problem. This is a nationwide condition, a condition that is consciously and unconsciouly accepted and maintained by the media, government, the educational system and the parents of little children — most importantly the parents of little children. Do you really think all the uproar over school busing was about time and money? Don’t be fooled. The parents just didn’t want “ghetto brats” in their clean valley schools. Why, after 470 years in this country, are the majority of the blacks not much better off than when they got here? The standard argument of the white race is that prejudice works both ways. They say that black people are equally prejudiced against us. This is true. Though no form of prejudice is right, blacks have a justification for their prejudice. Theirs is not an irrational hatred or feeling of superiority. We took a people from their native land and stripped them for a whole generation. We took their language, their religion, their family names and gave them toil and hardships as a replacement. Can you blame them for their resentment? One example of hidden racism in people happened very close to me. A former roommate once complained about my “overabundance” of black friends. After discussing my friends with her mother, her mother told her to move out of our apartment. My roommate did move and admitted that aside from her mother’s feelings, she also felt strange about my friends. She wondered if people would talk about her and if she might not be accepted by other whites on the floor. We don’t need to worry about the Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan. We know what they advocate. The most dangerous and far reaching racism is held by people who don’t even know that they are prejudiced. Because there is nothing that bothers me more than unfairness, the situation I’ve discovered here at USC is a constant irritant. There are numerous organizations on this campus where my black friends would not be accepted, but I haven’t found one black organization where I am not accepted. I know it isn’t right to generalize. I like people, not colors. There must be more white people on this campus who feel like I do. But now it’s the white people on campus who will have to prove themselves to me.

Christy House is a sophomore in drama.

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The Struggle Prayer

My Version of the Serenity Prayer.

Sometimes the only serenity I can find

is speaking my truth

and joining the battle for justice

The Struggle Prayer
Grant me the courage to change
the things I cannot accept.
The knowledge that through action
I can make a difference.
The power to make a positive impact impact.
And the wisdom to use
tolerance and compassion FIRST.
And to seek justice for myself and others.


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Even Ice Cream can’t make 2018 Politics taste better…

Pondering on the why’s and why nots of the shutdown with a friend I came up with this analogy.
“Ahhhhh. But of course. It would be hard to really come up with a logical argument for this. But let me try and explain it in a way easier to understand.
A baseball team goes into an ice cream shop. The biggest best team in the whole city! This is the team all the other teams want to be like. They are fighting over flavors. 60% of the team wants Vanilla. 40% of the team wants chocolate. They decide to vote. The chocolate lovers all vote for chocolate. But they don’t have enough votes. Well it would be Vanilla but the Vanilla lovers split because some of them say Strawberry might be better. SO some of the team members get together and decide on Neapolitan ice cream would work if there was a little more Vanilla in it than the other 2. They take this idea about Neapolitan to the Coach. He says “No Way! It’s all Vanilla. Vanilla is best. If you don’t get Vanilla then no Ice Cream for any of you and don’t you dare ask for any ice cream to take home to your friends or younger brothers and sisters. The Vanilla lovers get together in tears trying to figure out how to hide the strawberry ice cream in the vanilla so the coach won’t see it but their friends the strawberry lovers can still get what they want. The chocolate lovers know they aren’t getting any chocolate. And after the Coach told them that there is no way to get what they want then it’s try and swallow the flavor they don’t think is best and hope the next time they come to the shop everybody can get something they like. The rest of the teams in the city think these guys are really really stupid. And they bet they can take them in the next game. And oh well. More ice cream for them!!!!



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Sunday Morning at the Rink

November 27, 2009
Sunday Morning at the Rink

I love Sunday mornings at the Rink. It reminds me of my own childhood at the stable. A subject for another blog but the “feeling” is the same.

We have all our regulars, old and young. Hockey skaters and figure skaters and speed skaters…The coaches move amongst them, voices ringing in the cold morning air of the arena. There isn’t anyone there that doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t NEED to be there. And while I guess there is a subtle class structure amongst the mothers, the “club” skaters vs the “basic” skaters vs the recreational skaters, it doesn’t feel so strict or harsh on Sunday mornings.

Sunday mornings, early, are my favorite. We all “know” each other even if we haven’t spoken and we realize that we are part of something…a community. And when one of us isn’t there…we wonder.

It’s cold. Jay keeps saying that eventually he will figure out the formula. Tank top, turtle neck, sweater, jacket, gloves…doesn’t matter. It still seems that we are cold no matter what the wardrobe.

It’s quiet. Not a lot of teenagers on dates. Few of the run of the mill “public skate” folks bother to get up at 8am on a Sunday morning.

There is an Asian man, in his 50’s, who does figures in the corner…works hard at them, and obviously was once a competitor and is disappointed in his performance, though I find him remarkable.

There is one young woman who doesn’t wear the girly outfits, wears pants and a short sleeved top, dark haired, intense, who does triples like it was her job. She skates in a world that we all wish we could join.

There is the hockey mom. She has two girls and a boy, all in hockey skates and pads and they skate fast, and go down on their knees and she makes them do their crossovers, picking up the gloves they’ve dropped, while she skates around them.

There is the mother/daughter combo, that always makes me sad. The daughter wears a red velvet skating skirt and the mother is NEVER satisfied with her performance and you can see the tears well up in her eyes at the words that Mom says, and the words that she doesn’t.

There is the guy in the speed skates…eyes shadowed…moving fast…trying to be a part…but obviously of another ilk.

There is the lady in her 60’s who can still do leaps and jumps and spins…and moves across the ice with such joy and happiness. She is my favorite.

And then there is my Calamity. Her coach, Rich, is 6’4″ without skates. His wife, Natasha couldln’t be more Iowa lovely, and yet can still do a triple and make all the kids look bad. Looking up at him can almost make Calamity fall over. He smiles, and chastises and demands as appropriate. Natasha gives her that tough love, and the exceptions that encourage her to excel. We love him for his good heart, good humor, and his JOY as he glides across the ice. We love her for her commitment to make it “right” and yet still let our daughter know that she means something, is valuable, and someone they CARE about, which is why they work so hard with her. They do this for each and every skater they coach. This is why their students and parents all feel so special, part of something good, as we know we have some of the best PEOPLE, let alone coaches, working each day with our children. They don’t seem to know the difference they make. They should. 

They show her who she can be and why it means something to be great. Natasha is a joy. And a safe place. Rich knows how to draw the line, and push Calamity past it, and make her GLAD that he did. Natasha is so unbelievably graceful she brings tears to your eyes. We are so lucky that these are the people we have given over our child to befriend and mold. And I see it in her face, so intent, so intense, so FIERCE, as she commits to whatever they ask, even if it’s scary or dangerous. And when she falls, she gives us thumbs up as she yells, “I’m okay, I’m okay.” And to see how she CARES about doing it right, and making them happy, and being a part of their world.

I watch her take her 8 year old body and bend it to her will, I listen to the music play, my nose runs in the cold and I’m just so DAMN happy. I am not a skater. This isn’t something I picked. I would be happy if she just wanted to play around. Calamity wants to be good. Calamity wants to do it right. Calamity gets frustrated when the edges aren’t right. And fights through it, til she gets it right.

I am so proud. And so lucky. And so grateful that I have been able to find other people to include in the life of my daughter who genuinely love her and care about HER as a person, not just as a skater or a paycheck.

Sunday mornings at the rink. A good place to be.

Thank you, Natasha, Rich and Tammy.

Epilogue:  January 2017
16 year old Calamity sat down with me and told me she misses it . The closest Ice Rink here in Ocala is an hour and half away in Daytona. She said even though she’s probably too old to compete in competitions anymore she still wants to skate and bring it back into our lives. I told her that the drive was worth it and I would make it happen. (And this rink on Wednesdays has “Dog Park on Ice” so our dogs might start a day a week too!). I think the lesson here is two fold. It’s never too late to do something you love. And the good things will always come back if you wait.

Thank you again Natasha, Rich and Tammy.

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And in an instant…Christy is truly born…

They said it wouldn’t be painful. I don’t remember who said it but at the time I believed it. Why wouldn’t I? I mean cracking an egg should be freeing and therefore glorious. Breaking out of your shell should be the pinnacle if not the beginning of your life.  We forget that all things including ourselves are born in blood.
This was different. The egg was fibrous and connected. Not so much a brittle shell as a web. I could feel the wings fight against the limits. I knew that we would be connected. That is the way of things here. But I didn’t realize that it would be like being born all over again.
I lay back in the grass and tried to breath. The sky seemed huge which was as it should be.  As my recognizing of it was as well.  My heart was pounding. I suppose in hope or anticipation.  I guess I should have felt afraid but it was all that I wanted.  And as it’s said DESIRE was the first of all created things.

Suddenly it became dark….no sky, no sun. When I looked up what I saw was red like blood. Then I knew…it was the wings of my beast. My soul mate. My reason d’être.  
I rose up. Now knowing my purpose.  All that was left was the doing of it.  Her head leaned down and we touched cheeks. I could hear her without a voice as I am sure she could hear me. We turned towards the sun together. There was much to do. Time to get started.  The first lesson to learn….that rebirth is not only possible but our birthright…our destiny.

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The Carrot, the Egg, or the Coffee.

A Carrot, and Egg, or a Cup of Coffee.I stole this from J.J. Cohen but thought it was worth sharing.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, …She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose. 
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’ 

’Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied. 

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. 

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. 

The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’ 

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. 

’Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside, am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? 

Or, am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Which are you?  Let us all try and be the coffee.

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Revelations One Has When Taking The Bus

 Written quite awhile ago.  But seems to have held up with passage of time.

Me and my Daddy when I was 15.  He raised me to believe that I was priceless in value.

I had an interesting experience this morning on the bus…

My car transmission tanked so I’ve been car-less for about two weeks. (It should be ready on Wednesday). It hasn’t been that bad. Public transportation in Pasadena is pretty good. And I’ve just been pretending that I’m in London where I would never even THINK of having a car…

That being said, this morning I walked my daughter to school from the bus stop and was treated with an enlightening and rather stunning experience.
I think I’m rather “with it” all things considered. I’m wired. I get the internet. I watch anime. I read popular books and see all the latest movies. I even have some friends who are teenagers who aren’t actually related to me. But I guess there are just some things that I can’t relate to…

We were walking behind a girl who looked to be about 16 years old who having a very animated and loud conversation on her cell phone. The jist of the conversation was this…a discussion of how she was going to sell her virginity on eBay or Craigs List.

 “I’m telling you, I know a girl who’s auctioning hers and it’s up to like almost a million! I would do it for a couple thousand.”
I think the friend wasn’t thinking it was such a great idea. The conversation started to take a certain turn where the replies were things like, “You know me girl, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, I’m just thinking about it.” 
Thinking about it. Thinking about it! This forced upon me way too many ethical dilemma’s before coffee. 
Is this where the internet age has gotten us? What makes a person a prostitute? But wasn’t  this exactly what a “dowry” used to be back in the day and no one thought of it back then as something sleazy?

I lost it to someone that I imagined I had feelings for…and it wasn’t so hot. Would it really have been worse to have walked away with a fist full of cash afterwards? What, if anything, do I need to tell my own daughter about this sort of thing?
 I’ve come to some initial conclusions, subject to revision at a later date, but here is what I thinking:

Perhaps my “first time” wasn’t something romantic out of a story book. But it was mine. It wasn’t bought and paid for, but freely given. And I can look back on it and know that I did it out of some feeling–desire, imagined love, seeking to be seen and touched and valued–rather than for a paycheck. Fee payable upon receipt.
 I guess it boils down to what parts of my mindsoulbody I believe are for sale. 

Sure, there are things you can pay me to do. But you can’t pay me to do anything or everything. Some of me is only for me, and can only be gifted, is not for sale, has no price tag. For all that you can pay me to do, the essential me doesn’t have a reserve price on eBay.

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A Tribute to John McKay

A Last Tribute to John McKayAugust 9, 2013 at 8:51pm

Well okay…I’ve been looking through some of my old journals from the 70’s. I was a weird kid….and I happened upon this! I guess I didn’t show it to anyone or do anything with it…but with USC in the Rose Bowl I thought I would share…

Dated November 8, 1975

A Last Tribute to John McKay
Well John you said you’d leave us. 

 We never thought you could.
We thought we could exist without you. 

 We haven’t proved we could.

You’ve been here a lot of seasons. 16 to be exact.  
And we’d have fumbled every play if you hadn’t been in the act.

We won’t leave National Champs John. No last Rose Bowl for you.
Your 16 years are through. But we at USC in our hearts there’s a place for you.

An era is ending and no use for sentiment.
But let me tell you this John…they were 16 years well spent.
We had lost that day to Stanford 10-13 and John McKay was headed to Tampa and I guess I was taking it pretty hard..<sigh><sigh>.

It was signed “C.C. House”……

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The story of Christymas….

Yesterday’s celebrations reminded me of something. And I thought “Who will tell these stories to my daughter one day? I better write it down!” So here it goes!
Once upon a time when my parents were still living and we all got together for the holidays we had a family tradition that we shared in the evening on Christmas…the telling of the “Christymas Story”.I was born at 4:08am on December 26th in 1962. The family was living in Dallas Texas at the time. (side note: And while living in Dallas in November of 1963 I was NOT the baby on the knoll.) This included My Mom and Dad and my sisters Suda and Mimi, 12 and 10 years old respectively. My Grandparents also happened to be visiting from Memphis TN for the holidays. On subsequent holidays they all took their part in telling the story.

Apparently I was a bit overdue. Yes folks…I started out LATE and have never corrected the flaw. SO…all the days preceding Christmas if my mother sneezed during the night my father jumped out of bed ready to take her to the hospital. That night/early morning my mother’s labor started. She got up walked around and attempted to wake my father. “Jack…I’m having the baby!” He told her he was getting up and she preceded to shower, shave her legs and pack for the hospital. When she was done she checked and my father was still asleep. After nudging and nudging him she finally exclaimed “JACK! Do I have to wake up my FATHER to take me to the hospital?!!!” The potential wrath of Harry Sr. woke Dad up with a flash and he wrapped my mother in her coat with the fur collar and proceeded to take her from Richardson (A suburb of Dallas) to Baylor University Hospital. He, of course, drove the speed limit and stopped at every stop on the empty streets at after 3am while my mother pushed her feet through the floorboards. Until finally she said in her best “Betty Strong House” manner “Jack…unless YOU want to deliver this baby you had best get a move on. I will pay any tickets!” They arrived at the hospital, the hospital tried to ask a bunch of questions, my father shouted “My wife is having the baby!!!”. They wheeled my mother back and some nurse offered her a pain killer. My mother refused (She hated the feeling ANY painkiller gave her) and the nurse said, “You are going to want this later and I won’t be around!” My mother said, “I’ll take that chance.” My arrival was so rapid that I was delivered by an intern because the doctor couldn’t make it. I was his first. He said, “Mrs. House you have a beautiful, healthy, baby girl.” My mother responded, “Where is my boy?” As the 3rd of 3 girls and 10 years late (My sisters said that the only argument they could remember my parents having was my father saying “But you CAN’T be PREGNANT?!!!!”….that was me.) I was their last chance to have a boy. They saw us to our room and Mom fell asleep.

She was planning to name me Jacqueline after Jack, my father. My father had a deep seated objection to “Juniors” of any kind. He believed it set up unreasonable expectations for the offspring. (He had been named Wiley Jackson after his father George Wiley.) So at 4:20am he drove home…wrote “Christy Carol” on all the birth announcements and MAILED them before my Mother woke up. So…she had to go with Christy or call all her friends and explain why my name was really Jacqueline. He went back to the hospital. This is where the fun starts. It seems my sister Mimi had seen them leave for the hospital early in the morning. At breakfast she told Grandma Emma and Grandpa Harry “Mom had the baby last night!”. They told her she was mistaken. A discussion ensued. Finally Emma asked “Well then honey what coat was Mom wearing?” Mimi said, “The one with the fur collar!” Grandma immediately went to the closet and brought the coat in as evidence. (It seems Jackson had brought it home with him that morning.) Much crying and protesting ensued until Dad called from the hospital to give them the news….a baby girl had been born that day. Suda immediately said, “A GIRL???? OH NO!!!” She didn’t speak to my mother for about 2 weeks after that because I wasn’t the little brother she had wanted. (She already had a baby sister and knew what they were about!)

My mother’s irritation had to due with a Christmas stocking. All the babies actually born on the 25th were sent home in a Christmas stocking. I had only missed it by a little over 4 hours BUT the hospital refused to give her a stocking to take me home in. Thus we see the start of my endless battles with “the MAN” at their roots, fueled by my brilliant and beautiful mother who always wanted me to get MORE than I deserved.

And so the Saga begins. I had my share of creatures and wise men (and women) in attendance. And while far from a manger the house in Richardson was as good a place as any to collect the Christymas version of Gold, Frankensince and Myrhh. Not “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but it’s all mine. And as Wiley Jackson House said, “From the day you were born no one could tell you anything.” A prophet? Yes…he most certainly was.

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