Tuesday, November 25, 2014

trying to make sense of it

Yesterday I went on a school field trip to Jamestown. Our tour guide took us to the boats first. If you have never been to Jamestown Virginia there are three outdoor exhibits: reconstructions of the English ships: The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery; the settlement or fort where one finds the Governor's house, the church, a storage building and other buildings to depict life in early Jamestown; and the Powhatan village. (If you haven't been, look it up. It is worth a visit.)

Our class went first to the ships where we boarded the Susan Constant. We went bellow deck and while there thought about living in these quarters with many other people for approximately 3 months was it? without showers, with little food, with chamber pots for toilets... and most of us agreed we must be very desperate indeed to consider such a journey.

And yet I thought to myself, people stow away every day to reach the shores of this great nation believing it to be a better place than the country they were born in.

That day I held hands with a 9 or 10 year old young man. He gets in trouble a lot at school and I see in him my son. They are both smart, easily distracted, impulsive with difficulty keeping their hands to themselves. At some point I had my hand around his shoulder to help him stand still and he realized the sweater I was wearing was soft, and he snuggled in. For the next hour we were buddies.

Later in the evening the news reported that the Grand Jury would not indict the officer in Ferguson. And riots started. And the news reported that the National Guard was called into other cities around the nation as well.

I thought about that young man I'd held hands with earlier in the day, who is a black boy. And how will people look at him in eight years when he is 18 and tall and still struggling to grow up. How will he look at me?

And I thought about those people who stow away believing that this country offers them a chance that they will not be offered in the country they were born into.

And I thought about all those people who were born here in this country and who feel that it does not offer them the same opportunities that it offers me. This isn't about glass ceilings. This is about safety. This is about mother's who fear for their sons and daughters. If not here where? If not here in the land of promise where does a mother go to raise her son in safety?

A man named Tony wrote this:

I WISH we could have an honest conversation about race relations in America.
I WISH that people would not be offended by the phrase "white privilege" and just be cognizant of the systematic social, political, and economic advantages inherent in being part of the majority.
I WISH that we as a nation were more educated and would accept that "race is a social construct designed to fulfill one purpose. racism."
I WISH that we would stop assuming that the color/hue of anyone's skin correlates to their work ethic, integrity, intelligence, or natural aptitude.
I WISH that we could put down our guards and try to truly understand each other's experiences and how that affects our world views.
I WISH I could walk into interviews, classrooms, and department stores and not worry about being stereotyped and judged before I have the chance to speak.
I WISH that my white friends would stop trying to point out how articulate President Obama or some other notable Black American (as if he is the exception) merely in an attempt to not seem racist, ( I know your heart and that you mean well).
I WISH that all of us, as Americans, would realize that the protests over the KILLING of black youths like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis is NOT because Officer Darren Wilson or the other shooters are overtly and explicitly racist. The public outcry is because there is a predisposition (that has existed for over 300 years) in all of America that Black Americans are inherently more dangerous and more violent. We as black Americans, are NOT given the benefit of the doubt, and in life or death situations it means that we have been and will continue to be killed.
I WISH we truly could be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.
I WISH we could embrace each other as humans and see value in each other because we are all part of the Human Race.
I WISH.

I do not know him and I have shared it with out his permission so I use only his first name here. But I share this because I feel that sometimes we, we white people, just need to shut up and listen.