Growing up, my dad had a dear friend by the name of Chicken Ruffin.
This wasn’t her real name – it was Elizabeth. But she adored her nickname, so that’s what everyone affectionately called her. I only called her Ms. Ruffin.
Elizabeth gave the best hugs a little girl could ask for. I know, because I got them often. And I always came home smelling like her lovely perfume.
Elizabeth was black. And my dad was white. They worked together at General Electric for 30 plus years.
And here and there, dad and his co-workers would do work for Elizabeth at the home she shared with her two sisters. Things like plowing her snow-covered driveway and replacing a toilet. Dad wouldn’t accept money, so in return, she would make him the most delicious cornbread. Enough for our entire family. And the desserts she made us could have won awards.
Elizabeth was the epitome of God’s grace and kindness and respect. She represented what was good in a woman. And in a human. I loved her so much.
Elizabeth died years ago, but her spirit still lives within me. I will never forget holding her hand towards the end of her life. Dad and I went to visit her in the nursing home and she told me to “Always be a good girl.” So as I sit here now and watch all of this George Floyd news unravel, I am left to wonder what would Elizabeth say? I wish I could talk to her now like I did back then.
But here is what I do believe:
There are evil white people. And there are amazing white people.
There are evil black people. And there are amazing black people.
There are white criminals. And there are black criminals.
There are prejudice white people. And there are prejudice black people.
Every single race on this planet has the good and the bad. But there is not one superior race. God created us all equal. And His rules apply to us all.
Hate is wrong.
Love is right.
Burning an American flag is wrong.
Making your voice heard is right.
Violence, looting, and vandalism are wrong.
Peaceful protests are right.
Discrimination of any kind is wrong.
Equality for all humans is right.
Satan is wrong.
God is right.
As a journalist for 22 years who has lived in 7 states covering the news, I have interviewed rapists, murderers, pedophiles, racists, homophobes, thieves, cheaters, and adulterers. I have interviewed people who are afraid of clowns and dogs and bridges. I have interviewed the very rich and the very poor. I have interviewed cop lovers and cop haters, those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice. I have interviewed Republicans and Democrats and feminists and advocates. I have interviewed a man on death row and a woman who birthed multiple babies at once. And do you know what they all had in common?
They all wanted to be loved and respected. EVERY HUMAN WANTS TO BE LOVED AND RESPECTED. Let that sink in.
And I think that’s what Ms. Ruffin would tell me now. I think she would say … If every human just truly loved and respected every human, our world could turn around. But in order for that to happen, we must first have a strong relationship with God. That is how she lived her life. And I know that is the solution. If every human on this planet, made a daily conscious effort to love others like God loves us all, hate would die.
I realize everyone has their own opinion of this George Floyd story – but you will never change my mind as a white, 43-year-old, female, journalist, wife, and mother … no human’s last words to another human should ever be, “Please, I can’t breathe.”
RIP George Floyd. And I hope you get to meet Ms. Elizabeth Ruffin. If you do, give her the biggest hug from me. And make sure to taste her cornbread.
*** I am going to keep writing stories about the hearts beneath the skin. If you enjoy reading them, please let me know and feel free to share ***