By Keith Burnett, Conductor BNSF

“Find the Good…”

I’ve started and stopped this several times, this has been more difficult than I had thought it would be.

My mother and I spent an extensive amount of time together after Donnie graduated and entered the United States Army. During these years we discussed many topics, not without many disagreements as well, of course. She groomed me for the world; and, on how to become a successful man of color.

A true parent knows their children better than the children know themselves. I will share with you the lesson from mom which has had a profound impact upon my life…….

Keith with Mom

The morning I was leaving for Basic Training to begin active duty service as a Military Police Officer with the United States Air Force, mom called me into the kitchen.

She reached in the lower cabinet and withdrew a flour sifter which probably was 20 yrs old.

In one of the top cabinets, she pulled out a bag of flour.

I had never seen this bag of flour before and believe me I had been through all those cabinets at one time or another.

Mom had rotating places to hide the girl scout cookies from me.

Placing both items on the kitchen table, she began to speak, “Keith, I’ve seen and experienced many events in my life. Some good, some not so good.”

As she spoke, she opened up the flour and placed about a cup into the sifter.

Mom, looked me in the eyes and said this while sifting the flour, “As you enter this crazy world on your own. You will have to take ALL of the people you meet and place them in this sifter as I did this flour. When you sort through them all, the good ones are like the flour coming through the bottom of this sifter. The bad, which will be very few, remain inside it; and, as I throw these bad things that were in the flour away, you should do the same with the bad people you meet. They will come from all walks of life, all colors and all ages. People have to be vetted, you have to be like this sifter.”

HOME: Kb, Mom and Pen

Years passed before I was able to really appreciate what lesson had been bestowed upon me that day.

Here’s a woman who was born in 1924, lived in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s with absolutely zero rights or expectations from US society.

Yet, she didn’t pass any hatred on to me in any form.

She once told me, after my freshman art teacher in high school called me a nigger:

“You are born with love, it’s free.

You have to be taught hate, it can cost.

You will never be taught to hate by me!”





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