|Southeast Park. Columbia, South Carolina. Taken by Robin Foster 2013.|
I am fortunate that in my quest I am transitioning because of age and experience into a role model for those searching to better themselves as I have always searched and will continue to search. I was always encouraged by my parents to seek to live the highest standards. How humbled I am that they eventually turned to follow in my footsteps by embracing my faith. There was no greater gift I could offer them in return for what they gave to me, and now these roles have helped me to find self-esteem and personal satisfaction:
|Otis E. Vance|
A woman of great faith, she was soft spoken, but boldly interjected her opinion when needed. She opened her home to me when my parents needed a babysitter. She was a wonderful cook, and she answered all my questions about her family history. She always granted my wishes to have her sing and play hymns on her piano. In advanced years after the loss of her husband, she kept busy with church service and caring for the sick and shut-in in her community.
I know the power and influence gained by magnifying my role as a woman. This could be a very controversial idea in the world as we know it today, but it has served my family for generations.
Person of color
Fortunately, I was not raised hearing opinions about people of different colors or the epitaphs used to describe people of different colors. Because my views were not clouded, my love for all people was never colored. I love all people.
I am not afraid or uncomfortable around people of different colors. I have learned as a practice that it is best not to use descriptions of people as black or white. Black is the color of a paved road, and white is the color of clouds against the sun. You will never see people with those skin tones. So, why refer to them using either color?
Colors used to describe people cause divisions. When I started private school, I was made aware of this from the names used by others in reference to me. My father warned me, "If you start crying now, you will be crying for the rest of your life." His perspective came from living in this world as a person of a very dark color. Where would the world be if we never began to categorize people by color?
To guard myself against feeling the effects of the bad connotations that people have about people of a darker color, I began my lifelong study of African American history and African American achievers in the fourth grade. My first biographies read were on the lives of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass who overcame great opposition during days far more difficult than I have faced. I knew that there was nothing that could hold me back either.
When we had our own child, we taught her of all the possibilities open to her in this world. She was taught not to let anyone discourage her because of her color. At the same time, we made sure she mingled with people of every color. People of all colors have a great love for her, and she is able to work and communicate effectively with people of all colors without regarding what color they may be.
I have discovered, however, that it is the things that seem to separate me from those whom I have a desire to have closer friendships with that make me the happiest. It is far better to have fewer and truer friends, and I have found exquisite joy in who I am and in what I believe.
Even though I meet some rejection by people of my own color when they discover I am a Mormon, I am blessed during the times I spend alone because those are the times I can feel my Savior the closest. Those are the times I can commune with Him through nature or in holy places. Those are the times I can feel the most inspiration in my life. In addition, those who have accepted and befriended me as a Mormon woman of color I treasure and love as pure gold. Number one on my list would be my dear husband, my best friend, a male, Mormon man of color. How I rejoice to know that I will spend the eternities with him!