Tag Archives: Ferguson

Being American: Ripping Up the Roots of Racial Hatred

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]

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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in culture, education, parenting


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New Year’s Resolutions for Race Relations in America

[Again, from my writing at Sidelines.  Be safe this New Year’s eve.]

I have Hope. I want you to have it, too. Regarding race relations in America, this past year has been rough, bitter, painful, enlightening and transcendent from day to day, almost moment by moment in some communities across our continent. The deaths of almost-grown children at the hands of law enforcement officers, the deaths of law enforcement officers at the hands of crazed, grief-stricken mavericks, the death of a college-aged daughter whose car just happened to break down in the wrong neighborhood, the deaths of fathers at the hands of overzealous rookies – these were all spurred by a uniquely domestic disease that America is STILL trying to cure. Race. We’ve had some shots and taken some bitter medicine, but now it’s time to go to therapy if we ever hope to get through this.

Thus, at the beginning of this shining New Year where we have lost loved ones, given the cold shoulder to friends over words, witnessed stupidity mixed right along with heart-felt and “Right”-driven protest, cried bitter tears and developed new worries for our own children, here are some New Year’s Resolutions that we need to keep.

They will be few, so we can focus on achieving them. They will have maximum effect, because they will adhere to the SMART goal criteria borrowed earnestly from business management, as suggested by Bethany Blanton in her post, “SMART New Year’s Resolutions;” in other words, they will be Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

I will be your cheer-leader and adopt the ruthless positivity of your own personal trainer in encouraging you to work on them, to make them your own and to add to or replace them as necessary to achieve them, knowing that this is now Life-or-Death, not a simple drive to lose a few pounds but to shirk a disease that can kill.

So, here they are:

1) To Reset Our Police: We resolve to equip, respect and honor our police men and women enough to give them more down time – more vacation time with better pay, to provide mental and spiritual rejuvenation on a weekly basis, to train them not to “Shoot to Kill” with our citizens by exploring other options, and to integrate and sensitize them to each particular community they serve by requiring them to spend time in after-school programs to hear our children’s hopes, as well as in job search circles to hear stories of perseverance. SMART application: By next New Year’s Eve, 70%-80% of every police department in America should increase paid vacation time by 15%, conduct regular screening for mental illness if they don’t already, and provide ongoing community internships in non-police capacities.

2) To Educate the Mainstream: We resolve to improve the attitudes of Americans over 30, and to provide historical perspective to those younger, towards people of other races by using media outlets to draw more accurate pictures of the everyday lives of American people, whether Asian, African-American, Italian-American, Native American, Hispanic American, Irish-American, just American. SMART application: We raise funds to support screenwriters, artists, children’s book writers, historians, major actors, to bring to the internet and big screen more high-quality stories on American lives, fun apps that integrate history and diversity, and portray all children, teens, adults as valuable and irreplaceable no matter their skin color, hair texture, habits of speech, or dress.

3) To Improve our Personal Mindsets: We resolve to press “re-set” on our attitudes towards each other, to strive to achieve without stepping on each other or looking down on others because they live differently. SMART application: Volunteer monthly in a clothing bank, a food bank, a library, a domestic abuse shelter. Just once a month. Listen to stories. Some will make you angry. Many will inspire you. Just start. Call Monday and volunteer.

OK, I tried. Now for someone else to add a goal or two, or to make these even SMARTer or more realistic. They are off the top of my head and from the first layer of my heart. Time for others to try, too. Happy New Year.

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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in education, parenting, race relations


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My Response to “The Looming Storm in Ferguson”

[This is my response in the Comments section to a post about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where I used to work as a JTPA/WIA youth summer jobs program recruiter and certification specialist with the Urban League over 15 years ago.  The post is called “The Looming Storm in Ferguson” by Kyle Gillespie, and I’ll post a link to it at the bottom of my response in the reply section, when I can find a good link.  Prayers are up for all involved.]

While I have a problem with several points made here concerning the death of yet another man’s not-yet-even-grown son at the hands of a police officer (one possibly with a chip on his shoulder and a mote in his eye), I agree mainly with most of what @Victor Matoush has said in response to the post. While the awareness-raising is mostly a phenomenon outside of the Black communities (within, it is already a known potential factor in any interaction with police), it is important that now people in broader communities and throughout the world see what American mothers and fathers of minority communities have been seeing for years despite a blind eye from larger authorities, but are now beyond tired of witnessing. Michael Brown’s daddy is doing the best he can to ask for some almost otherworldly calm in the midst of his own grief and mourning. The looters and rioters are detractors from the real fear, rage and anguish being expressed on the streets of Ferguson, a lower-income community for sure, but one with proud older people who have held high dreams for their youth in the face of economic and social barriers that have tried to decimate the community for decades. Add to this what seems like a constant reminder that their children are valued less by the ones who should be protecting them and you have more than a tinderbox accidentally lit – you have a firestorm whose flames keep being fed by more and more instances of “accidental shootings” that people are urged “not to link”. How can we not? Autopsies are clinical, scientific, purportedly objective things. Pain and loss and anger are not.

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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in parenting


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