Read a lengthy article via one of my favorite blogs (Ends and Beginnings) not too long ago (click HERE). By the end of the article, my fear, mistrust, and sadness rose to the highest levels they’ve been since elementary school when the TV mini-series Roots aired (1977) and sparked racial tension at school I was ten years old and while I’d been on the receiving end of racism, bigotry, and misogyny by then, I didn’t know that’s what it was. I just thought people were mean. But when Roots came on, there were adults in my life that suddenly felt the need to tell me all about the different types of hate that would color my life for the rest of my life.
Short bit of my back story – military brat, international frame of mind in terms of skin color = it was a difference that had no bearing on my feelings toward anyone. Went to my first American school in a predominately Black neighborhood and was immediately ostracized because I had a British accent, was well spoken and well read. Transferred to another predominately Black school and was then immediately bussed to a predominately White school. Made friends or so I thought with mostly White kids as the Black kids continued to tease me.
Roots comes on, and within days, my White friends began to distance themselves. I am confused.
Seventh grade, I’m being bussed to a junior high school in a predominately Hispanic / White area of town. First week and for some reason, there’s a massive fight between two big groups of the Hispanic and Black kids. Racial tension once again rules my life. Bullying is now something I encounter from all the kids, White, Black, and Hispanic. I managed to make a friend with another ‘outsider’ – she is White and is still counted as one of my best friends.
Fast forward – I grow up and assume my role in this country. I know that the color of my skin and my gender will put me in harms way but I learn to live more with the reality of the day as in, taking it moment by moment, being aware of my surroundings, my actions and how they MIGHT be (mis)perceived. I’m cautious, but not driven by fear. In other words, I have found myself balanced on the tightrope between reality and possibility, and I walk it with a fairly confident shrug of my shoulders.
Fast forward some more and you find me here, 9 months into Trump’s reign (of terror). Overtly racist and misogynistic behavior, HATE speech, urban terrorism, and blatant disregard for HUMAN life are on the rise EVERYWHERE in the industrialized world. The article I mentioned above, if you haven’t taken the time to read it, provides a chilling (for me) perspective as to why we find ourselves here. By the last word, I lost my balance and fell from the tightrope. I am afraid and deeply mistrustful for the first time since I was 10 years old.
I’m examining my friendships and realizing that of the five White women I consider to be FRIENDS, I believe I’m the only “chip” in their cookies. In other words, I’m the only ‘Black’ friend they have; I’m the only Black person they’ve shared any kind of intimacy with. Does that make them closet racists? Bigots? Or just prejudiced? Of my six or seven Black friends, only one of them that I know of makes any effort to have White friends – White people they have come to know outside of work; people with whom they’ve shared any kind of intimacy with. Does that make my Black friends racist? Bigoted? Prejudiced? Am I wrong for loving them all without bias or judgement? For wanting them to love me unconditionally? For wanting us ALL to be the example of what happens when humans allow other humans to just be who they are, and not the stereotypes that come with the color of their skin? Am I wrong that I don’t have a multi-cultural coalition of friendships? Am I racist? Bigoted? Prejudiced? And if so, how do I fix that?
There is hope and love, and people willing to change their minds (have you heard of the organization Life After Hate?). There’s also how often I find myself at the end of my day, having not been (knowingly) discriminated against, or abused in any way. Is this the REALITY or is this?
However it works out, whatever comes of this, me and my fear are going to continue to write and publish my books; I’m going to continue to build (as best I can) my coaching businesses. I’m going to do my unbalanced best to LIVE the rest of my life as connected to my Divinity as possible. I pray that you do the same.
Sending love and the brightest, healing Light I can muster in what feels like darkening times.