This week, while sitting in the early morning hours on my porch with my computer and morning coffee, catching the faint breeze and enjoying solitude before my children and grandchildren woke up, my peace of heart and mind were jarred by a website that popped up, the title of which I will not mention here. It proceeded to explain and provide “testimonials” to the world of why the author felt no one should ever do business with African-Americans, why even giving them a chance to prove they are decent is dangerous for your well-being, and how black people are less than human as compared to every other “race” on the planet, even to the point of making fun of pictures of starving babies in Africa.
I was as mesmerized as I was horrified, the sickened look on my face drawing my children around me (and I had to shoo most away, although I allowed my 16 year old to hover beside me awhile and read, intending to try to mitigate the equally-disturbed spirit that was starting to close in on her as well.) We are aware even more acutely than most that racism lives, being mostly African-American and Native American, with other heritages in our bloodline and married into our family. Racism itself isn’t new. It was just the detail with which this website described its hate, the mixing of superficial observation with close-minded tunnel vision and hatred. It almost paralyzed me with the question: They hate us that much??
In light of what has been happening so publicly lately, with multiple shootings and unwarranted violence, fear, and anger, the answer would seem to be “Yes, they hate us that much.” That answer, however, needs deeper thought and a rectified reasoning. It’s not so open and shut. It’s not so black and white.
The morning after reading such venom, to alleviate our heavy spirits it took an hour or so of family discussion, of remembering all of the normal and good people of all races and backgrounds in our lives, people within our family and outside, people who know and care about us within the United States and abroad. It took counting our blessings and remembering ourselves and how we didn’t fit anything the website described about chronic lack of responsibility or bad hygiene or rudeness or any of it, even though we knew people who did, but these people are of all races. (It also took my sending a quick note and link to CNN for investigation.) After a while, we got our good moods and bearings back, and then life continued.
Life isn’t continuing, however, for the too many victims that have lost their lives because of the twisted mindsets of some Americans exposed to the hatred expressed in these websites. A sense of security isn’t continuing, however, for us parents who believed that our sons and daughters were safe going up to the corner store, going to that pool party, going to that church event, that the days of mysterious disappearances, of lynchings and of police brutality were long gone. They are not. Emmitt Till’s story could just as well have been last week.
We teach our children to be respectful and compassionate, but we also teach them to stand up for themselves and to claim an equal place in the community, that their dreams and playfulness are just as legitimate as those of other races, because “we are all the same.” They are learning a different lesson by the events of the past days, weeks and months, however. Something must be done. Something must be done about the attitudes, and the stereotypes, and the hatred, and the chips on the shoulders.
Well, I woke up this morning, and I’m in my customary place on the porch with a few of my offspring stirring happily inside the house, and I’m looking again for solutions. I keep faith that, for every seething racist who paints black people with that toxic brush due to past experiences with a few bad apples, or due to racist upbringing or surroundings, that there are at least three who are not. I pray this is true.
Meanwhile, if you are an educator or a parent who worries your child doesn’t get enough objective information about black culture beyond historical references to Harriet Tubman or current hip-hop culture (which is only a conspicuous piece of pop culture and black artistic creativity), and you are not of any African-American heritage, I have a few links for you.
Or if you are a person who has had one too many negative encounters with African-Americans, and you are looking for a way to stay human and objective, I am sending you a virtual welcome and tour of real Black people’s lives beyond the normal newscasts and “reality show” choreography and hard facades some may put up because they don’t know you either, and some of your behaviors may be interpreted through a lens you don’t have or even know exists.
These links are just one mom’s virtual hug of reconciliation and calculated steps in trying to ensure a fairer and safer America for her own children and the children of our nation, steps calculated to enlighten and to educate. Please recognize that there is no One Black Culture, just as there is no One White Culture, due to the fact that black people like all people in America are often of many different heritages, regions, languages and lingos, and even races, if you want to believe in “race” as we currently define it. There is a shared cultural experience of life in the United States, including a shared “Black” experience, however, plus shared historical challenges, etc. Think American Salad vs. Melting Pot. These commonalities have flavored our foods, our traditions, our perceptions and our behaviors in certain circumstances, and these are what I looked for in daring to assemble some websites to introduce them to you.
So, here are several websites with articles, videos or links to get you started:
They should open a window that will cause you to ask more informed questions, to see why things are not quite what they seem.
Anything to contribute? Welcome.
[Reprinted from my post at Sidelines. View additional comments there at http://sidelinesapp.com/item/being-american-ripping-up-the-roots-of-racial-hatred/]