I find that often, I am compelled to write by world events and how they impact my little corner of the world. It’s honestly a little ego-centric, right? But events make me think. And events make me want to learn more. And then I feel the need to grow. So for me, writing about events that happen is part of my personal growth process. And I am humble, or stupid, enough to want to share my acknowledgement of that weakness and personal growth with you, my readers, because maybe something I write may resonate with you, too.
Minnesota is pretty damn scary right now. I feel like one day I’ll wake up and find the state will have imploded. I am completely aware of the fact that the media “spins” stories for the dramatic effect and certainly also to fulfill some political agenda, and that when I see one story CNN, I will see a different one on Fox News or Huffington Post….which is why I read articles on each of several different news sites, because I feel like the literal truth, the FACTS, are some blended version of the stories as they are represented. It’s really a sad statement about news reporting, because so much of it is subjective, and not the reporting of facts.
But I digress. My reference to the media employing dramatic effect is in no way meant to diminish the stories of what is happening in our country, or in Minnesota. Regardless of the political or subjective agenda, the fact remains that our country is plagued and divided by hate, discrimination and inequity.
The history of slavery spans the world for thousands of years. Originally it was not race-based, but was always about one people conquering another. White European imperialism brought slavery to a new level when it brought African men, women and children to the New World, which has become our terrible, tragic American history. This history continues to plague us today and people are dying because of it. This history plagues all of humanity, honestly. While I hate to admit it, I certainly cannot deny the historical evidence I’ve found in my own family’s ancestry of having owned slaves in North Carolina in the 1700 and 1800s. Back then the census documents show the number of blacks, referred to then as negros, owned by the head of the household. Absolutely, I am ashamed of that part of my history. So moving forward, the best thing I can do is live a life full of acceptance, equity and embracing the differences we all have and what gifts these differences bring to the table!
I realize my last statement may sound a little like a Disney script….but the truth is, we MUST move forward with conviction to make positive change. We MUST stop tearing each other down. This truth stands alone. We MUST change our ways!
Hate is not natural, it is taught. My children are such an inspiration to me. They see through eyes of innocence, discovery and unabashed love for all things! The other day in Target, we saw a Muslim woman in a full burka, the only thing visible were her eyes. My 5 year old exclaimed, “Mama, I love her beautiful dress!” She saw the beauty in this woman’s appearance, without identifying the difference in the style of fashion of the clothes or the color of the little bit of dark skin we could see around her eyes. This is the magic of children and their perspective on the world. Children, in all their own racial and ethnic differences, do NOT emerge from the womb identifying those differences as negative. She saw the difference in a style of dress she’d never seen, but she called out its beauty, not something negative about it. Hate is not natural, it is taught!
Acknowledge difference. The things that make us each different and unique are what makes us each different and unique. Right? Haha. How boring would life be as a bunch of identical clones? Our differences MUST be acknowledge and embraced. Change and growth never happens from the same old thing. The same ideas. This is our problem! We, as humans, need to recognize the value of our differences, NOT hide from them. We need to celebrate these differences and praise them and uplift them to promote acceptance and equity. No one person is better or worse than another due to their differences. The differences-in personal experience, in thoughts and in actions-are what will empower and equip us to move forward in positive change. We cannot continue to accept the hatred and violence that is occurring because of our differences. We MUST use these differences to change and grow! Acknowledge difference.
Become a force for change. The issue of race inequality in America touches us all. Not a single one of us are untouched by it. Are you white with ancestral history of slave owners? Are you black with ancestral history of being a descendant of slaves? Are you Japanese with relatives who were interred in camps in during the second World War? Did your Chinese ancestors work the transcontinental railroads? Did your Irish kin flee the famine and move to New York in search of a better life? Have your Mexican relatives crossed the border in search of freedom from government corruption? Ok, enough. The point is, we ALL are somehow woven into this issue in our country, somehow, somewhere along the way. We MUST be the change and do our parts. All of us. Become a force for change.
4 Good read/watches on the subject:
1-An eye opening history of worldwide slavery and how it came to our soil.
2-Meet Doyin, an avid anti-racist who spreads his teachings for us all, especially his adorable half black, half Japanese kiddos.
3-A highly regarded Quaker nonprofit working towards equality and respect for all humans.
4-An AMAZING Ted Talk about our racial biases by Verna Myers. Watch this. Really. Watch it.
I don’t know the answers to fix this, as much as I wish I did. Asian people are being attacked as a result of racist, riling bass-ackward political rhetoric by our former leader. Black people are dying at the hands of those hired to protect our communities. I know neither of these examples is representative of most Americans, but they are representative enough to show us the systemic racism that continues to pervade all levels of our society! Is the answer better training on the use of lethal force? Better and more accurate representations of American history in schools? Improved immigration processes? I don’t know. I wish I did, really.
As a parent who wants to make the world a better, more accepting place for my kids, the best I think I can do, is to teach them the value of our differences, the positive impact of these differences, and the importance of love and acceptance of others’ differences and gifts. I will employ examples, I will serve my community, and I will speak out strongly against hate and discrimination.
We need to fight not against each other, but against the tyrannical, supremacist teachings of our past. The truth is, our country was formed on the basis of rich old white dudes trying to spread their wealth, power and influence at the expense of others. Come on!! We need to do better than this! We MUST create a new reality of hope going forward!
PEACE, Love and Cheers!