What a great title for a book, The Shiver. I still get the same kind of shiver from time to time that I talk about at the beginning of my story, The Promise. They are not brought on by the same traumatic experiences of my childhood. Instead, they are brought on by the familiar circumstances that surrounded that time in my life. It could be as simple as an old song, a smell, or the situations I find myself experiencing all over again.
One of those familiarities is the racial tension we are experiencing again. It takes me right back into the halls of Stenton child center and Germantown High school where I, a white girl, found myself on the other side of the issue. Racism goes both ways, and it begins with what we are taught to believe and is reinforced by what we experience for ourselves. While I experienced what it was like to be a minority, it felt as if I was a goldfish in a tank full of black mollies. I feared they might eat me alive. The shiver comes from fear and a constant effort to survive.
However, there was a time during my stay at Stenton when we no longer saw ourselves as diffèrent. It didn’t matter what color our skin was, we shared the commonality of the situation we found ourselves in. We were kids who had been abandon by our parents. It was what we felt underneath our skin that brought us together. If we could keep all the painful outside influences away from what brought us together we found harmony in each other. How easy those outside influences can make us forget the sacredness that brings us together, and helps us see ourselves in each other.
While all the familiarity congers up painful memories for me, it also reminds me how far I have come, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and who I have become as a result of it. If I don’t let myself learn from the worst of things I’ve experienced than everything I’ve gone through is for nothing, and all I’d be left with is an empty promise.