(Photo from https://iwda.org.au/…)
Close your eyes. Imagine a society where children, white, brown, black, Asian, Mexican, LGBTQ, girls, boys, Jewish, Muslim, some with disabilities, some without, play on their school playground together. No bullying, teasing, or rude remarks. Just kids playing. Now imagine those children as teens and young adults. Imagine they obtain equal opportunities and equal pay. The young adults each can attend college and work good jobs. Now imagine that same diverse group of teens interacting together in the same office. Imagine the respect they treat each other with. They care about each other. They check in on each other and root for each other’s successes. It doesn’t matter that they are each different races, genders, ethnicities, and have different disabilities and uniquenesses. Now imagine that the adults in the office interact with as much respect as the adults, teens, and children throughout their town. Imagine that every law of the town and every police, doctor, teacher, and worker serves and protects everyone in the community, treating each individual with kindness. Imagine that everyone in the town accepts each other’s differences, and acknowledges that everyone is human – no one is inferior or superior.
Now box this picture, tuck it in a bottle, and wake up.
The reality is that some of those young people on the playground might one day start to tease or bully another kid because of his or her differences. They might have warped morals and views, based off of what their parents or friends tell them, or what the news says, or what their teacher says. As a young adult, this ill-contempt might culminate into intolerance. Maybe they make a racially insensitive comment. Maybe they think negatively of others because of their race, whether consciously or unconsciously.
But if they can CHANGE from the young unassuming kids to become racist or racially insensitive, then they can CHANGE to become respectful of others.
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” (George Washington Carver)
We can cure the superiority complex of white supremacy, racial insensitivity, and oppression through teaching – in schools and in homes – that each human matters. No one is above or below anyone else; all skin tones, customs, cultures, and ways of life are valid and essential to the uniqueness and beauty of the world.
We can cure the disease through organizations that help youth in high-poverty areas fulfill their needs and wellness, by building up inner city schools, by allowing the youth to gain proper education, by helping them break the cycle of poverty that entraps so many. We can cure the disease by working to lower the amount of Adverse Childhood Experiences the youth experience, and can work to end evils like human trafficking and gang violence through outreach programs aimed at helping and educating young people.
We can cure the disease through teaching Black History in schools. It is time we learn about Charles Drew (inventor of the blood bank which saved countless lives), Garret Morgan (inventor of traffic lights and gas masks, which saved countless lives), Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman, (strong, powerful women; leaders for the world). It’s time we read more Toni Morrison, more MLK, more Frederick Douglass, more Maya Angelou.
Let’s hold conversations and have speakers in schools, let’s hold national days of remembrance for those who suffered and continue to suffer under evil institutions of slavery, oppression, and racism, let us fight back not with violence but with our words. Let us put our anger into voice – a powerful voice of organization and effective action. Let us draft change. Let us grow. Let us become better and improve ourselves, as individuals, and as a nation.
Let’s have our survivors of Jim Crow, in their sixties, and seventies, and eighties, come talk and educate our youth. Let’s give our survivors a voice and a platform – through the power to educate and transform lives. Let’s show our survivors that we acknowledge them, we accept them, and we respect them.
We are a hurting nation, we are a healing nation, we are a changing nation. Communication and storytelling is of the essence to our existence and mending of the US democracy and freedoms.
Oppression attempts to suppress the voice, just as disease attempts to suppress the body. But just as proper treatment cures the sick, proper action ends injustice. We can cure this illness of racial oppression, left over from the 55 years since Jim Crow ended, through education, through services, through outreach. It starts with individuals. It starts with you and me.
Now remember that picture you bottled up? Take it out and hang it, mentally, on your wall, as a reminder of what you want the world to look like. What will you do to help make that photo a reality?