I grieve for the black lives lost to police brutality.
I seethe about the disparity in loss of black lives to Covid-19 compared to everyone else.
I loathe income inequality and lack of educational opportunity.
I can’t imagine the fear parents of black children swallow every time their child leaves the house.
I applaud the protesters, taking to the streets, risking exposure to Covid-19, from small towns to large cities, from coast to coast and across the globe. I praise the politicians and police forces who are taking to their knees, who are joining the conversations.
Is Enough finally Enough?
I’ve struggled with my own response. I’m sad and mad in depths I’ve never felt. Wondering when I can get a haircut or fly to see my children or hug my neighbor pales by comparison to what we face as a nation right now. I have white privilege and I hate that I do.
I know I could easily pat myself on the back– I taught in urban schools, teaching African American students my entire teaching career. I wrote a book about a teacher who rode his horse across the country to honor the contributions of African Americans to the history and development of the country. Many of these unsung heroes were unknown to me when I began researching, and also to the staff I worked with and the students we taught. I sat on a board of a non-profit devoted to providing mentorship to African American males who’ve lost their fathers to violence.
I have black friends.
Yet I stood by when my friend, a professional journalist, couldn’t hail a cab in New York City just a few years ago. I stood by when African American cycling friends were dissed while we pedaled along a rural road or waited to buy coffee and sandwiches. I stood by when my 8th grade students received nasty looks when we attended a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a local theater.
I could have stood up.
I was brought up to not stand by.
My parents marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My dad sobbed in front of our black and white television when he learned of Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. That fall, we were preparing to move to Mount Bijou, Mississippi for my father to teach poultry raising skills to farmers. The program, part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society dream, died when funding was diverted to the Vietnam War.
So now I want to stand up. I’m beginning by joining my state League of Women Voters’ Social Justice Committee.
I will work to register voters and to get out the vote. I will moderate debates between candidates. We must encourage voting, among all citizens. Votes count in every election from local to county, state, to federal. Every single time.
I will read. I’ve always included books, fiction and non-fiction about the African American and immigrant experiences in my lists; there are many sites listing more titles. I’ll write and talk about my reading as I believe we learn empathy for others if we walk in their shoes and listen to their stories.
Here’s a few I recommend:
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
And if you need further justification why the statues need to come down:
In the Shadow of Statues by Mitch Landrieu
Finally, I’ll donate all proceeds from sales of my book to Black Lives Matter.
What are you doing? What are you reading? What can we do?