Skip to content

It was during the early morning hours of June 7th 1998 that 49-year-old James Byrd Jr. of Jasper, Texas was dragged nearly three miles behind the bumper of a pickup truck to his death.

Just the day before my wife and I brought our second newborn daughter home from the hospital and I wondered if we had done the right thing. Was it fair to bring child into such a troubled world?

I asked how it was possible that three individuals could wrap a fellow human being in chains and drag him to his death simply because of the color of his skin. My answer came easily. It was hate. Hate is a powerful emotion. In this case, hate nurtured from birth for the color of another man’s skin.

Over the years the number of disturbing events I saw on TV were too many to count, but this time it was different. The words that reverberated through my being were, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem”

I had become an expert at seeing things troubled me and complaining about them, but very rarely was I part of the solution.

One year later I entered the Salvation Army Headquarters in the North End of Hartford. The North End is a galaxy away from the side of the city I knew. I had never seen so much despair in the form of abandoned cars, broken glass and boarded up windows.

I met Rev. Brian Keith Sinclair, who headed the Teens and Jeans program, and asked, “What else do the kids see besides what I saw today?”

He said, “The absence of hope is the reality of their existence, as this is all they know or ever see!”

I invited him and a “few” of his kids to our home in the country the following weekend. You can imagine the look of surprise on my face when a full size yellow school bus pulled in our driveway and 47 kids from inner city Hartford piled out. It was awesome!

For years “My Kids” came to visit each month. We would hike, swim, sled or simply play board games around the fireplace. Each time the message was “Love.” Each time it was with the hope that my children would see beyond color.

A friend asked my wife one day, “Do you really think you are making a difference?” It was a fair question, and one that we were never really compelled to measure. The reason was simple. We weren’t doing it to make a difference as much as we were doing it because it was just plain fun. It felt good. It was good for our family.

A short time after that question was asked, my eldest daughter Kendall was sitting in my lap, and I showed her a picture of her and a friend.

I asked her, “Kendall what’s the difference between you and Chaneen?”

“That’s easy Daddy” she said, “Chaneen is 5 and I am 4”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah Daddy, I have straight hair and hers is curly”

“Anything else?”

She thought a moment.

“Oh yeah Daddy there is one more big thing, Chaneen has lost four teeth I have only lost one.”

A sense of wellbeing covered me as we sat together.

More than fifteen years later Kendall and Chaneen are still friends. Without question they now see each other’s “color,” however what they see first is a friend.

Avatar photo

Douglas "Clydesdale" Comstock is regarded as an authority on the topic of mental toughness. He is an award winning speaker, inspirational storyteller and coach on the topics of high performance, excellence and mental toughness.
Comstock is a former Alaska "Deadliest Catch" Commercial Fisherman where he worked off the waters of the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and Aleutian Islands. Doug was caught in forty foot seas for 48 hours in the Shelikof Strait an area with the highest rate of “non-returning sea vessels” of anywhere in the world. Doug is a Three- time Ironman triathlon finisher, two on the grueling lava fields of Kona Hawaii. He is a 3rd Degree Black Belt and former team member on the US Intersport Karate team to Russia and Poland.
In August 2015, at age 60 Comstock swam 19 miles across the English Channel.

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. The story us touchy in the begining and so sad but has got a lot of teaching. The kids’s part is so inspiring that we should be like kids, kids are so kind and humble……if we can be like kids in manners we would not be racists and we would not discriminate.

    Thaks to you the author, God bless you.

    1. Dear Selonyana,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts on my story. Your comments about being being more like children is “spot on”…The world would be a very different place if we could all see the world as children do.

      Many thanks again for sharing.

      Happy New Year


  2. See someone as a friend first. So much wisdom there. If the initial presumption is that a person is decent, then we are more open to the opportunity to have a better communication. From there, a relationship based on interest and caring (as a human being) can happen. Thanks for sharing this story of goodwill.

  3. What a nice, thoughtful thing to do! The sharing and the enjoyment you have given to children who have so little in this world to look forward to, must have been a motivating factor for many of them to try to improve their lot. God bless you!

  4. Dear Douglas

    I am South African and this story really resonated with me. We have an extremely painful history where Caucasians treated Africans as sub humans. Mr Nelson Mandela gave us an opportunity to heal and forgive. That fealing of being a “rainbow nation” is now under threat from people who have nefarous interests. It’s amazing how many parallels we have with USA. Thank you for sharing and help us to continue to love one another even though we sometimes give each other to hate.

  5. Thank you for the story of your experience or rather the story of how children is still pure. It is also our responsible as parents that we do not inject from a baby, with any ideologies, traditions or cultures, beliefs, which are mostly intolerant to other cultures and beliefs. Let our children learn morality without all those beliefs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *