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Ode to my mother


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My mother, Virginia Walker, continues to be my inspiration.

By Yvette Walker Hollis

I was raised not to think of myself as better or worse
than other people. That nonjudgmental rule included skin color, hair type, socioeconomic status, religion, country or creed. It was a difficult goal, but one insisted upon by my mother, Virginia Walker. She passed away on Oct. 20, 2000, but her legacy lives on in me, in my marriage, and in this Internet magazine you are reading. I thought you should know something about the woman who set me on
the path to recognizing and encouraging a generation of
New People. I also thought you should know how important family can be to helping heal the wounds society sometimes still whips out.

When my husband, Dan, and I began publishing the
paper version of this magazine back in Sept. 1990, my
mother was so proud. In clearing out her things, I found all manners of newspaper clippings about our new endeavor. That made me feel good, as I know many of my early readers did not have a positive relationship with family members, and that it was due to their interracial unions. How painful it was, many of them told me, that their mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc., simply couldn't deal with their dates, spouses or children.

I always told them to keep the faith, and to continue to love their families, but not to subject themselves to the negativity. I don't know if that was good advice, but it came from the heart.

Knowing that family guidance and support wasn't automatic, I was doubly grateful. And after my mother's death, I began to think about it even more. How and what did she do to guide my hand to this destiny? Plenty, I rediscovered, as I began to think back to childhood.

Back in elementary school, I had teen idol crushes, as most little girls did. But while my other black friends loved Michael Jackson, I loved Michael AND David Cassidy, Rick Springfield and Donny Osmond. Mommy never told me I couldn't like those white boys. As I grew, and the crushes matured to older entertainers, (British singers Marc Bolan and Elton John), she continued to let me like whomever. I never received disapproving looks at the glossy photos from teen magazines covering my bedroom walls.

Of course, liking people you are never likely to meet is one thing. But it didn't stop there. My mother thought it was important that I socialize with people different from me. She told me, "you live in a world filled with white, black, brown and tan people. You must be able to be comfortable with all kinds of people." So, she sent me to a high school on the north side of Chicago. My classmates were white, black, brown and tan.

My first serious boyfriend was black, and my mother was
comfortable with that. When we parted company in college, I began to date both inside and outside my race. My mother was comfortable with that, too. To me, it just made sense to date whomever you liked, and who shared interests with you. After all, that's what mommy said I should do.

When I met my then future husband, I never was afraid
that my family would disapprove. His family, in turn, was just as supportive, and they continue to be. In fact, Dan's family has been a tower of strength for me as I have dealt with the loss of my mother. I feel blessed for that.

I am not bragging. But I felt it important that you, readers, know why this Web site exists. It exists because of a strong, proud woman who raised me to love myself and my fellow man. Mommy, this is for you.

Your daughter,