A story From Robert “Robbie” Hemingway

Regardless of one’s race, a brain is a brain and an idea is an idea. Whether you have the same skin tone as another person or not, you both have a mind very capable of great things. Hypothetically, if you had a team of scientists, each equally qualified in the same field to study the effects of a new fertilizer, wouldn’t it be foolish to take away half of your team because they are of a different color? The lesson learned here is that you’re hurting yourself as well.

George Washington Carver, during the late 1800s and early-mid 1900s, was a scientist, humanitarian, and educator at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. His works include encouraging farmers in the south to begin farming alternative crops to cotton for increased income and nutrition. He also developed a wide range of products from peanuts, including gasoline and even plastics. He was born into slavery in the 1860s.

Carver’s success in his life should not be seen as a success for African Americans, but for humanity. The same applies to any non-colored individual, such as Alexander Fleming, the inventor of Penicillin. Penicillin’s invention and use as an antibiotic has saved countless lives and continues to do so to this day.

Being born and spending my first ten years in Florida I was introduced to a diversity of race, religion and life styles. I spent many weekends traveling to the Keys and witnessing a diversity of color, race and sexual preference. A fortunate thing happened along the way… everyone got along.

Now I live in the Northeast and attend High School. I have a great group of friends that come in all sizes, colors, and are both straight and homosexual. Again… we all get along, share ideas and are simply happy to be ourselves. I am not the judgmental type, and I am happy to report life is good.

My father has a creative and marketing background, as well as a very open mind. My mother has a very adventurous spirit. She was born and raised in Africa, and she continues to travel all over the world to explore and learn. Living in Florida and being a Hemingway comes with stories passed down to me from my mother and my grandfather. Just walking around Key West would always come with a story accompanied by a history lesson about my great grandfather and idol, Ernest Hemingway. At the end of the day, Hemingway in his time was very much like we are today. He was surrounded by diversity and adapted to be part of, enjoy the company of, and work with all races, religions and very colorful people. I have some cousins that are of mixed race and love to spend time with them when they come to the states to visit.

When asked to write a piece on diversity by my father’s good friend Michael Hall, it was for some very good reasons. My father had met Michael for the first time when he was interviewing by phone for a position my father had open on the west coast of Florida. I was too young at the time to remember, but as I understand it and when presented to me by Michael and my father it was very comical. Michael described himself to my father on the phone so that he would not have to make the trek across alligator alley to interview only to be immediately turned down because of his appearance. He proclaimed (and I quote)…”just so you know I am a black man with dreadlocks”. My dad’s response was…”so do you know how to design and are you good?” That was all that was important to my father. And almost 15 years later a friendship and bond still exist. The first thing I see when I wake up every morning and the last thing I see when I shut the light off in my room at night is a tribute to my grandfather on my father’s side. When he passed away almost nine years ago, Michael (who was very fond of my grandfather) created a poster of my grandfather’s life and that keeps him fresh in my memory.

Michael’s gift to me is knowing someone that had an opportunity to grow and advance because my father looked passed both color and appearance to give him a start with a real opportunity and career path. My hope is that this article is looked back upon someday with the question being asked… Was it really like that back then?

A brain is a brain, an idea is an idea and a human, is a human