Toni Morrison said, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” I started to think about this saying, and I wanted to try and really process its meaning. I am the product of a biracial union. I was born in the 1960’s when segregation was still pretty much the law of the land and Black people were thought to be inferior. Ironically, in 2019, some people still think of Black people as inferior -- even though laws have been passed to say differently. We’ve even had the first Black President in the White House (can we come up with another name for this house), but racism is still strong and alive. I am proud of my entire heritage (a Black father and a White mother), but I know in America I am a Black woman and that’s okay with me; however, when I think of other countries, individuals are often thought of as their nationality first, despite having different cultures and ethnicities. When will America get that picture?
When I think of what is happening today, it hurts my heart and my spirit. I’ve heard people ask, “Why is there a need for an organization like, Black Lives Matter? Isn’t that racist?” No, it isn’t. Not with the rise in hate groups, especially white supremacists who target Black people, Hispanics/Latinos, Immigrants and anyone that is different from them (and they feel it is okay because of the rhetoric that comes out of the highest office in this country). They feel protected and safe. When will all Americans feel protected and safe? There needs to be accountability across the board. Before we will see any real progress in this country, we must learn how to be kind to one another and show mutual respect.
To understand race relations in America we would have to go back 400 years. The thread that binds us as a country is ripped all the way through the soul of America. Although some people may disagree, there’s a difference between Black Pride and white supremacy. One focuses on making sure the lives of Black people are respected and not thrown away while the other focuses on hate and destruction. What must we do to get to a place where we are not so mean with each other? How do we get to the table of brotherly love and focus more on what we have in common than what makes us different?
I am sick and tired of hearing or reading about another shooting, mass killing, racial profiling or other race related incidents. Police brutality, shootings like El Paso, Texas, and the likes must stop. If we want hope for our children and grandchildren, we must each become a party of one and stand up for what is right even when it is difficult. We must be willing to sacrifice and support efforts to bring healing. I believe forgiveness is a critical component to this process. We must put an end to hate crimes. A hate crime is described as a bias-motivated crime and usually involves some level of prejudice. All of us hold some level of bias (or prejudice), but when we allow it to cause harm to another human being this is not acceptable.
What challenge are you willing to pick up to help eradicate this situation? Are you willing to not participate in any disparaging conversations about other people just because they are different in any way? Are you willing to even challenge your friends and family members when they share racial jokes that could be hurtful? We must all be willing to de-escalate situations on all sides, no matter how big or small. It starts with us. As I told my children growing up, wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it and right is right even if nobody is doing it.
Healing Without Hate: It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!