Today, I was online for an important conversation on Racism. The Leadership Clinic is hosted by Bishop Gregory Palmer who is the Bishop of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. The session featured speaker and author Dr. Jermar Tisby. Allow me to say that the conversation had substance and necessity to the current discourse of addressing racism and the attempt to change the environment in putting this horrific ideology down. I have no real criticism of the content, the reason for the discussion, or the validity of the necessity for it. Yet, I found myself in a very awkward but familiar place after things ended.
For 40 years, I have been a Black man in America. Every fiber of my being has experienced the various side effects of living in a world that hates your skin, your possession of gifts, and your uniqueness while attempting to profit from all of the valuable resources that live within. I have watched and waited for people to take a moment to see my reality for just a second. I have invited people into my space to at minimum understand the plight that has been documented for many years by people across the width and breadth of Black culture and experience. I have watched Black men and women of exceptional character and skill be passed over by unexceptional people. I have been a part of conversation where all I heard at the end of the discourse was “be patient”.
Well, I need all the people that claim care, love, and grace for me to give me a moment. I do not feel that I am in a place of being patient or waiting for movement to happen. I have arrived at a point where I am running thin on the simple idea of human beings being caring and considerate of my existence. I have lived through the following phases of life as an African American.
- You can be anything you want to be in this world if you work hard…
- Content of character will make the difference
- Show your preparation (education, degrees, etc)
- Show you are better by working twice as hard
I AM TIRED!!!!!
What makes it more difficult is that I am currently dealing with in fighting with my mind and heart. My mind says that everything I am saying at this moment will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misconstrued, and missed in messaging. My heart is barking at me to express the real of this moment. Both aspects agree though that it feels in some ways like a hopeless enterprise.
Why does this bother me so much? Why should I even care if White people or anyone else accepts me for who I am? Why does the thought disturb my soul so bad? Why do I think that more talk will lead to more conversations without real action and investment? Why do I know that white supremacy will always linger because well meaning people are afraid to divest their benefits? Why? I have seen the song and dance before.
I have watched people defend establishments, organizations, entities, and anything else faster than my Black life. I have watched people develop defense arguments in order to call my trauma response an overreaction. I listen to people question my hatred for inequality as an attachment to liberal ideology. Newsflash! Treating people with basic human decency and care is not a conservative or liberal idea. It is a Godly way to treat people!
The need and desire for hope in moments like this is barely in existence. I know when some people read this they will have the desire to jump and try to convince me to feel differently. Don’t move on that impulse. Some will begin to lament the sentiment and come up with some packaged response to sound empathic and otherwise. Don’t bother. Take this most recent lesson that I have been teaching my son.
When CJ makes a mistake or does something wrong, his first and correct movement is to apologize. Recently, I have begun teaching a different approach. “Son, don’t apologize to me. Change your action next time.” I know he will acknowledge the right or wrong that he has done. If his actions don’t change, he will prove that his growth is nonexistent.
Don’t tell me you are sorry. Change your actions…..