I try to be as encouraging as I can when it comes to things I talk to my children about. This is Black History Month so I thought it would be a good idea to watch some black historical shows with the girls. I found this one series on HULU called “The Book Of Negroes” I thought it sounded like a good show. After minutes went by, the girls started to get up and walk out of the room. I looked around and noticed they had an uncomfortable twitch going, so, I paused the movie.
That’s when it happened. I was bombarded with questions as to why was I watching this type of show? It’s Black History Month so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about our roots, but I should have known better. Every Black History Month we run into this same issue. I find a good movie or show to view and the children protest. So this time around they asked me something that I haven’t heard before. They insisted that watching the show made them feel sad and then they asked me, why didn’t it make me sad? I told them that it reminded me that we are here for a reason and that our people made big sacrifices so that we would be able to live in the house we live in, eat the foods we eat, walk down the streets we walk down, and sleep in late on Saturdays, if we wanted to.
They countered with, doesn’t it make you dislike white people? I answered no more than I would dislike the ones who sold our ancestors into slavery. They nodded and continued out of the room. I don’t know if they will ever be ready to learn about our history, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to give little history lessons when I can. However, I can’t lie, there’s part of me starting to wonder if we maybe focus a little too much on the history and not enough on the future.
Over the past week, I have seen a pattern in the media. We are accepting of any person willing to part ways with their isms, but we are forever targeting people who engaged in racism. This prevents people from changing due to the nasty stigma and sting of the rebuke. In order for this country to heal, we have to develop a new way of seeing racism.
Racism is often taught. Just like it can be taught, it can also be unlearned. However, the problem comes when we crucify those who engaged in the past behavior, yet managed to turn their behavior around. Improvement should be a welcomed change, so why are we not rejoicing? I do not see us treating alcoholics the same. We work very hard to make sure they do well in recovery and try to help them focus on the positive. At least that is what we did with my father. We never beat him up about his addiction or made him feel like less of a person.
We need to embrace a caring tone and a tone of tolerance when we deal with people suffering from racism. We all come from many different walks of life and those voyages give birth to different struggles. Take my airplane trip with the six middle eastern men scooting next to me as an example. I was so quick to think they would bring the plane down. I went into protect mode and engaged in my manic friend making journey that I will never live down. Even though it was a few months after 9/11, I should have known better. Judging people by their nationality wasn’t okay. I let my fear get the best of me and ended up talking those poor men to a near death for 8 hours!
Take Liam Neeson and the blackface controversies from this week, it shows that we are all a work in progress. If you say you’ve never felt some ping of that, chances are, you are a saint. We should be encouraging each other to be kind and open-minded.
In the end, can we ever get to a place of forgiveness? Will we always harbor disregard for each other? Understand that everyone has skeletons, but what makes your skeletons more acceptable than others? Before you judge make sure, you are not standing in a large ant pile of drama waiting to rise to the top. I see no winners here because we are all people.