I met a man while doing some psuedo-volunteer work yesterday. He was in town because he was an organ match for someone he had never met - a person I will describe as indigent and who was dealt a staggering hand of cards against her....abuse (and poverty) resulted in organ damage. Before I am any afforded any sort of martyr status - I disclose completely - I do have an economic interest in this woman getting her life together as well as in getting to know her - am rooting for her to succeed. The man had no idea who he was donating to or of her background....he did it because he wanted to save a life. He was older - in his late 60s - and did not come from overwhelming means in his own right as a retired civil servant. And he was an Ole Miss grad. Selfless in his gift.
I mentioned to him that we lived in Oxford in 1971 and his first comment was "That must have been pretty hard for you."
Oddly enough, the n-bomb slipped out of his mouth as we discussed his time (and my time as a kid) at Ole Miss a few times without offending me in the least. It was conversational, not directed. He talked about some of the things he used to believe, but now with mixed race grandkids.....well his opinions have changed. I told him how just the days before I was scrapping with the likes of OxPatchReb on boards.....encouraging the "not taking it" from PSU fans on the bag man SBN article while simultaneously trolling the Ole Miss fan base. Oddly enough, one thing pointed out from the good doctors at JHU was that in their experience, there was a disproportionate number of organ donees from the south and specifically Mississippi. No explanation, just an observation. Read into it what you will.
So my story is this. Back in the early 70s, color was still not welcome on the Ole Miss campus nor in Oxford. color with means.....a new concept to be hated altogether. I was never meant to be a Jackie Robinson as a 6yo, nor were my siblings or parents. we got it BAD. We did not know our place. from arrival, it seemed like we were in a horrible nightmare. I've told specific stories of our experience - constant police harrassment, my brothers FB being stolen by frat boys then getting beaten by them and handcuffed by campus police. Not a single person stepping forward to prevent three children from being beaten....instead the memory I have is of a very pretty girl laughing about it and saying "keep them in their place." My mother getting a necklace stolen by the police. A policeman breaking a tail light to issue a ticket. Four months of hell.
So Mississippi, Ole Miss, and Oxford especially became a running joke in our family, When my brother died (four years later), one of the few things of his that survives with me is a football with "fuck you little n-" scrawled on it. There was some serious hate in me towards Ole Miss, and via the anonymity of the Internet....I intended to exercise it. Now I am trying to exorcise it a bit.
I watched a selfless man - who likely would have been laughing at our predicament while he was at Ole Miss (he talked about the governor trying to prevent integration of the school and it being the popular sentiment at the time) do something so damn generous at an age when one's health is one's most important asset.
I said thanks to the man, but the right thing for me to do is try to forgive the past and acknowledge that close to NONE of you - current Ole Miss students, recent and older alumni, had nothing to do with our experience and that my harassment of you - digging at you to make you FEEL a bit of what I felt - was unfair to you. For that I do apologize. I do acknowledge that although I have not seen it, things have likely changed at Ole Miss and in Oxford tremendously....it has been 40+ years. I also slandered the academic reputation of the school repeatedly and I apologize for that as well. Yes there is a bit of causality in the actions of one man and my own look at my own, very real feelings towards a really bad part of my life. I wanted to hurt Ole Miss in some way, any way. Maybe I did or did not. Either way, I am sorry for any bad feelings I caused you.
Now none of these apologies extends to the assholes who beat us up or harassed our family - I want to be clear about that. Nor does any forgiveness - once an asshole, always an asshole.
And that does not automatically MAKE me an Ole Miss fan. In terms of the SEC, I rooted for GA (marginally) and Billy Donovan (some of the time)....but I do like seeing the giants such as Bama, Auburn, & LSU get toppled...so I won't be rooting against you anymore. But as a Skins fan, reserve the right to keep making fun of Oher not being able to protect the blind side (I live in a predominantly Ravens fan area).
Additionally, my hate for PSU (and UVA) continue unabated....indeed incrementally intensified when I saw the high horse being ridden in the bag man thread. Nothing noble here. I am not on a quest to be a better man. But I hope I am a better man with respect to how I view and treat Ole Miss and Oxford.
So I hope you find this apology credible. I hope my forgiveness towards the institution, town and state are for real as well.
Not sure that I will ever have occasion to revisit Oxford but take many of you at your word that it has become a very nice town. If I do, will certainly welcome the opportunity to meet with any and all of you.
I am leaving a present for you to use on Bama when the occasion strikes as a comment below.
Bless the actions of one, and bless the futures of all.