Tag Archives: race relations

I’m Mad With Your Race

A lady I know, let’s call her 223, approached me and said “I’m mad at your race!” She is white. The “good” news is she felt “comfortable” saying this to me. I like to know where people stand on issues of race and culture. The bad news is I knew where this was headed. I responded with two questions:
“What race?”  
“The human race?”
Her response was “no, I mean YOUR race.” I replied, “oh, you mean MY race.”
Before we continue, let me provide a little background information. The debate about confederate flags and monuments, and Neo-Nazis and the KKK, is currently engulfing our nation. It seems that community after community is facing the question about what to do with Confederate monuments that are a sense of pride for some, and a symbol of hate for others. Here in the Tampa Bay area, removal of a monument of two Confederate soldiers has been a hot topic and it has spawned a heated debate. With this as the backdrop, 223 thought it was appropriate to say to me “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Now that we established 223’s anger with “MY race,” I pressed on with the conversation. “Why are you mad with MY race?”
223 responded, “Because you want the monuments taken down.”
These are the times when I go into my interviewer/teacher/great debater role. I welcome these conversations; you know the ones about “MY race,” provided the person I am speaking to is willing to listen. Most of the time, I know these conversations probably will not resolve anything or change anyone’s opinion. But, I believe that if we talk these things out and try to listen to each other, at least we might get a glimpse (and maybe a little understanding) of how others think.  I tend to ask questions too, in hopes of getting my “opponent” to think and provide answer to support their point-of-view. Hold that thought…
So I engaged 223 with my interviewer hat on. “You do realize there are plenty of (using Donald Trump’s words) “very fine people,” I mean WHITE people who also want the monuments taken down too. Are you also mad at them?”
There was my first question. I threw that pitch right down the middle of the plate! I just wanted an answer that would confirm what I already knew, but hoped was not true: she was really mad at MY race.
She didn’t give a response! Instead, she launched into the next talking point (also espoused by Donald Trump). 223 said “who comes next: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?” I was ready for that one. It was time to put on my teacher hat. “You do realize why Washington and Jefferson are viewed differently right?” No response to question two either.
Time to teach. Washington and Jefferson (and the other Founding Fathers), though neither saints  nor heroes in my eyes, at least had the forethought to put mechanisms in place to “decide” questions of race in the future. Although their idea was to produce a perfect union, they knew the society they created had flaws, which is one reason why the Constitution they created can be amended as needed. I give them credit for that. However, their reluctance to act upon their moral responsibility to end the “peculiar institution” has caused a, slow, but steady ripple effect that leads some people, even in 2017 to say: “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Back to the story. This trail of logic would have been too much for 223, so I condensed it. I told her, “the difference is Washington and Jefferson never took up arms against the United States. The soldiers on this and other Confederate monuments (in particular Robert E. Lee) did. So monuments erected for them are viewed differently.”
Although this wasn’t a question, I thought maybe I could get a response worthy of continuing the “conversation.” Instead I got this: “well they were all involved in slavery.”  This is a valid point. But, it misses the mark because Washington and Jefferson are known more for the good they accomplished for our country. Robert E. Lee is known for his opposition to our country. I knew this response would require the great debater role in me. Should I take it there?
I did want to lay a tactful, yet pointed, smack down on my “opponent,” because unknowingly (I think) she put her foot in the slavery “debate.” All I needed to hear next was the talking point about how good slavery was for MY race back then. Believe it or not, in 2017, there are people who present and even accept as true the idea that slavery was beneficial…
Sometimes you should accept the fact that you have the high ground, and your opponent can’t take it from you. I was there. Any further conversation would have led to an “unnecessary” confrontation. I could not change 223’s heart or mind. It wasn’t worth it. I am the kind of person who can agree to disagree. By the way, I do like 223 as a person, and I think she likes me as a person too. However, I am not sure if our “acquaintance” trumps (pun intended) her opinion of “MY race.” It does mean I should keep 223 at the proper distance in regards to this topic, unless she chooses to have meaningful dialogue about it in the future.
I guess 223 is still mad at “MY race.”
What really concerns me is how many others feel the same way?
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Identification: Who Said You are _______? Do You Believe Them?

 

The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

Along the way there have always been obstacles put in our way for us to overcome. There have always been challenges for us to recognize and face. There have always been questions we needed to answer just to become qualified. I think we have overcome numerous obstacles, faced several challenges, and answered all of the questions correctly. Now we must take the next step by defining our true identity.

During our journey, we have been identified in many ways. We have been called many names. We have been given many titles. Our character and worth as a people has been defined for us, and often not in glorious terms. We have been told we are inferior, unworthy, incapable, unlovable, unredeemable, ungodly, unlawful, uneducated, unteachable, unreachable, lazy, and ugly.

Now I ask a simple question: Who said you are _______? Do you believe them?

If you believe them, then they have won. They have defined your character for you. I am here to refute everything they have said. I am here to break every stereotype they can find. I am here to correct every false opinion about us.

Question Mark

Now I ask a simple question: I say you are __________ . Do you believe me?

If you believe me, wake up and seize your victory. Use self-identification to define your true character. Live up to everything I am about to say. Break every stereotype about who you are. Correct every false opinion they have about you.

 

Who said you are inferior?                                         I say you are superior!

Who said you are unworthy?                                     I say you are worthy!

Who said you are incapable?                                      I say you are capable!

Who said you are unlovable?                                     I say you are lovable!

Who said you are unredeemable?                             I say you are redeemed!

Who said you are ungodly?                                         I say you are God-fearing!

 

Who said you are unlawful?                                       I say you are law-abiding!

Who said you are uneducated?                                  I say you are educated!

Who said you are unteachable?                                 I say you can be taught!

Who said you are unreachable?                                I say you are reachable!

Who said you are lazy?                                                I say you are energized!

Who said you are ugly?                                                I say you are beautiful!

 

Now that you have been correctly identified, rise up and find success! The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

 

 

Charleston: Flags and Monuments or Hearts and Minds

Photo courtesy of Carinteriordesign.net

Photo courtesy of Carinteriordesign.net

Charleston: Flags and Monuments or Hearts and Minds

The tragic shootings that occurred in Charleston have led to another debate about race relations in the United States. This one centers on the symbolism attached to the Confederate flag and all things that commemorate Confederate history. For the record, anyone who acts like they do not understand the rationale that created the Confederate States of America is not being honest. Make no mistake; it was about preserving a way of life built on slavery and the “benefits” it gave to that society. It was also about the ability of states to self-govern and protect the rights it established. Slavery was one of the principle rights the states of the Confederacy fought to defend. Flags and monuments are still visible reminders of this struggle.

Since the shootings, a lot of information about Confederate flags and monuments underscores how hot this topic has always been. It was smoldering under the surface until one lone wolf decided to take his racial animosity out on innocent people. His allegiance to nationalist movements tied to preserving the legacy of the Confederacy has become the focal point of the Charleston incident. Now all things deemed offensive, from the flag to monuments and even street names is up for debate. I believe we need to put some boundaries on this because going overboard can strip some Americans of their rights to possess, display, and even worship symbols of the old Confederacy.

As much as I dislike what the Confederate flag stood for, I do not think we have the right to totally eliminate it. Nor do we have the right to dismantle monuments erected to glorify fallen Confederate sons and daughters. We should not strip every street and public space of the names of Confederate heroes either. I think all of these acts are a stretch and a violation of the idea of being American. We do not have to agree with the premise behind an object or symbol, but our disagreement should not mean that we do not need to learn how to tolerate what these things represent. Every time a Confederate flag flies and a rally is held at a Confederate monument, it is an opportunity to educate ourselves about the true meaning behind these objects.

On the other hand, I do not believe the Confederate flag or any monument dedicated to a Confederate hero should be associated with any state buildings or flags. Remember, the Confederate States of America was a separate country that broke away from the United States. Why should we commemorate a different country, especially one hostile to our own, on any public property in any state in America? To me, this is a simple argument to debate and conclude. Also, no replicas of the old Confederacy should be hidden in plain sight in any state flag. Nor should it be represented on any grounds own by a state or the Federal Government.

So I am one who is not favor of getting rid of all remnants of the old Confederacy. Some people must believe that doing so will also erase the ideology that made, and unfortunately still makes, many people proud of the heritage symbolized by the Confederate flag. Instead, erasing this ideology will require changing hearts and minds. Changing hearts and minds requires deep and thorough cleansing. It can not be accomplished solely by removing flags and monuments, as if this is the only formula for improving race relations.

We have quite a task ahead of us as a nation to change the racial animosity that divides some of us, but I believe we are inching toward this goal. Charleston has been a wake up call for our nation… let the cleansing begin!