Usually when I sit down to write my Sunday post, I have an outline in my head about what I am going to write, that is not the case today.
I had planned on writing a light-hearted post about the Eclipse; unfortunately the circumstances of the last eight days does not allow me to do that.
For the last week I have battled myself as to whether or not I even wanted to write this post. I try to stay non-political, but I know if I am going to be honest with myself and the people who honor me with reading what I write, I have to write this post…… if only I knew what to say.
I think like many of you, I have no idea how to even address the issues that face our nation when it comes to race, but why should we, our nation has battled this issue for the last 200 years and we still can’t get it right, so I am just going to jump in, share my thoughts and let them lie.
I have a feeling what I say won’t be popular with either side, but here goes, as I sit here in front of my keyboard I still don’t know what to say.
Like many of you I have been shocked by the comments and actions we have seen played out on our television screens over the last week. How have we gotten the issue of race in America so wrong for over two centuries and we still don’t have any end in sight to what tears us apart as a nation?
I am a son of the South, I grew up in rural Georgia, moved to Atlanta after college and then on to south-Florida and back home again just two short years ago.
During my time on this earth I have been fortunate to live and work in some of the most vibrant multi-cultural cities in our nation. Atlanta; West Palm Beach, Florida; Lake Park, Florida; Orlando, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va and my home Clayton, GA. In each and every one of these communities I have worked with, laughed with, cried with and loved people of all races.
I deplore racism on every front, but I deplore racism on ALL sides. In my life I have found just as many white people as black people who disgust me in their actions and beliefs.
I am a white middle-aged man, I do not think I am better or worse than any other person on this planet. I was taught to respect my fellow-man and honor them for the character they create, their actions and their work-ethic, not their past, their heritage or the political affiliation they identify with.
Some say, as a white man I have privilege, I don’t. I have worked for everything I have ever gotten in my life and I am proud of the life I have built for myself through hard-work and dedication.
We have all seen racism and bigotry played out through the history of our nation, it’s despicable. Allow me to relate two stories that happened to me during the 1980’s, both still disgust me today.
When I was in college one of my best friends was a black woman named Lisa. We shared a Major and became friends through group projects, club affiliations and studies.
Our college was in a small town in south-Georgia. One Saturday, Lisa and I were working on a project and needed to run into town to pick up some supplies.
As we walked down the Main Street of the town, a small group of KKK members were assembled in front of us. Obviously Lisa was nervous, but steadfast that we needed to get where we were going. We walked directly towards the small group of hate when one of the members of the group approached me and said “boy, what are you doing with that?” THAT!?!?
I was with a young woman of grace, dignity and intelligence who was working towards a college degree, a young woman who would make an impact on the world.
While I wanted to share my feelings with this pig who had spewed his hate on us, I didn’t. I didn’t because Lisa continued to look forward, stood tall and kept walking. I learned a lesson that day, when hate is ignored it is silenced.
When we finished our errand, Lisa walked back towards the group, there were no comments thrown our way, only silenced haters by a young woman who showed what character is made of.
The second incident occurred in the late 80’s in Atlanta. As the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration was approaching, my friends Greg and David and I decided we would attend the parade to honor Dr. King and the vision of an America free of hate that he dreamed of.
On the day of the parade, the three of us boarded a MARTA train headed into downtown to participate in the festivities.
During the short train ride to the parade route we heard a few comments from others on the train, it was uncomfortable but we knew it would be OK once we got to Peachtree Street.
During that afternoon we were ridiculed and shouted at, it was made clear to us that three white guys were not welcome and instead of showing our support for Dr. King’s Dream, we left before the parade could even begin.
Certainly we all have stories we can relate regarding race, these are just two, but they exemplify the problem we have as a country…. BOTH sides have people who stand in their corner who do more damage than good, BOTH sides have a long way to move before we can truly be the UNITED States of America and BOTH sides need to listen and talk more than stepping up on their soapbox in an effort to prove their misguided point.
In my soul I know that these bigots, racists and hate groups are a very small minority, but let us be clear they stand on both sides of the argument.
President Donald Trump hurt the conversation this week with his comments, and as many of you, I was repulsed by what he said; however, if you are repulsed by the President’s comments and not equally repulsed when Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal publicly stated she hopes the President is assassinated you have a problem.
This week, Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi said the statues of Confederates in the US Capitol have always been offensive and called on Speaker of the House Ryan to have them removed.
My question for Ms. Pelosi is, if they have ALWAYS been offensive why didn’t she call for their removal when she was Speaker of the House?
The hypocrisy of our elected leaders is offensive to the constituents they represent. At some point we as Americans have to tackle this issue on our own and stop allowing the grand-standers who live off the public dole to set the agenda. These elected individuals are not who should be changing the hearts and minds of Americans, that is our job, they should be working on creating jobs, the economy, our nation’s safety and stop trying to shirk their responsibilities as elected officials to govern.
There are those who now call for the removal of all Confederate monuments around the country, if and when they are removed what happens next? Will we remove monuments of our Jewish leaders, Hispanic, Black, Gay, Italian, Christian, when we cover up our history we don’t have a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past and grow towards a more perfect union.
I have been blessed to know and love people of all races, creeds and sexual orientations. I have known very few people in my life who are not accepting of others, because I choose not to allow that type of bigotry to infiltrate my life.
Thankfully I know our nation is filled with people like me, it’s now time we put the hate groups in the trash where they belong and work as a nation to stitch together this great divide created by a few.
Love always wins, it’s time we the majority, those who truly love our land and it’s people, prove it!