Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

Beyond Understanding

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The year that Obama became president, my mom was still alive. I remember her tearing up as he was sworn in. She said that she never thought she’d see the day that a black man became president, and that she was proud to be an American.

Fast forward to our world today, torn apart by hatred and greed, and I am ashamed. My mom died eight years ago, and as much as I still miss her, I am relieved that she never saw Trump become president, glad that she has not been separated even more by this pandemic, which would have threatened her enormously with her COPD, and saddened her by the response to it all. And most of all, I am glad that she is not see our president fan the flames of violence by ignoring the systemic racism that still exists in our country today, evidenced almost daily. The horrors of violence toward people of color, institutionalized by the notion of law and order, may well have never disappeared, even in the moment that my mom felt pride. But to have a president who not only ignores, but encourages racism and hatred… we can no longer stay silent. I can no longer stay silent.

This year feels pivotal in so many ways. Our country is divided, and I have found myself personally perplexed and saddened to know people who refuse to see what is happening. How is it possible to remain objective when lives are torn apart? Nearly all of the people I knew who support Trump and his methods now used to be reasonable people who wished no harm, but those who continue to support–or who have been swayed to support these policies now seem like cult members. How did they come to accept these words that have no basis in reality? They state their (Trump’s) beliefs as though he works with well-researched facts, and they fight all the harder when presented with facts. Truth no longer matters? Well, all right, let’s say that’s the way things are. But when did it become acceptable to express hatred like this?

My mom told us of an evening when she was a child in southeastern Missouri that her own mom told her to stay inside. She was young–it was still the 1930s–but this was apparently when she learned about lynchings. A man was going to be lynched, she didn’t know why, but she did know that it was happening. It was horrifying to her then, and horrifying to remember. Horrifying to know about the people who did it, horrifying to know the dangers in opposing the lynchers. Years later, she still told this story, realizing how difficult it was still to overcome this time in history.

“We Shall Overcome,” sang the protesters during the Civil Rights Movement years ago. We still hope for the moment that we all can overcome injustice and cruelty. I hate to think that the progress I saw throughout my lifetime was an illusion. I am privileged, and may well have believed that the appearance of equality was truth. I knew that equality was not complete, in all honesty, but I thought that we were a hell of a lot farther than we are.

We must overcome, for the survival of our country, and it takes more than understanding. I cannot feel the experience of being black in America, as much as I may think I have seen, as many stories as I have heard. But I believe the stories, and I have seen the injustice. I hope and pray that our anger is constructive now, that every ounce of anger strikes a blow at our past injustices and our present prejudices, and that once we can see racism torn apart, we can rebuild a better country that seeks to mend with compassion, and that serves all of its own people and not only the rich and powerful who have stolen it now.

Written by Only Anecdotal

2 Jun 2020 at 4:34pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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