As I watched the events in Charlottesville unfold, I was heartbroken and upset, even to the point of anger; as I would be sure to hope most of you were.
However, I was not surprised; this was not a shock to me.
I was raised by a black woman from the south side of Chicago. My mother would tell me stories of when she was a kid of being chased out of white neighborhoods with bats, how she became numb to hearing and being called the word 'Nigger.' And how her everyday life was a pot of boiling systematic oppression.
I was raised to be VERY careful of how I acted in public. I was told how people would assume the worst in me. Regardless of the truth of this statement, I invite you to think about the reasons for which WE have that genuine fear and mindset.
The fact is, inequality was woven into the fabric of the foundation of the United States. Slavery was legal for 245 years until 1865, when the 13th amendment came to be.
The 13th amendment, which states, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, (shall exist) except as a punishment for crime."
It's no secret that directly following the 13th amendment the media was flooded with negative and vile depictions of black people as rapists, murderers, and criminals.
This type of media paved the way to create a culture that continued to see "free" black men and women as less than human.
For almost one hundred years following the end of slavery, whites and blacks could not use the same bathroom. Whites and blacks could not drink from the same water fountain. Whites and blacks were not permitted to attended the same schools, churches, or swimming pools. When the United States Government provided blacks a bathroom, water fountain, library, or school, the inequalities in such services were abundantly evident. They were ALWAYS of a lesser quality.
If a black person attended a white pool, the pool would be then be shut down, drained, and bleached.
The reason I point out these uncomfortable aspects of our history is to help provide context for my question.
Do you believe that a country and culture, founded in slavery, inequality, and racism, which practiced such injustices for hundreds of years, simply shifted its mindset because of a few laws?
In recent years, we may have made giant strides, but our country is riddled still with racism; From Tiki torching Nazis in Virgina to the racist joke or comment that you overheard at work or school.
As Ice Cube once said, “Speak a little truth, and people lose their minds.” The truth is hard to hear. But it doesn’t make it any less true.
After witnessing the events in Charlottesville, many of you have probably asked yourself, "What can I do?"
I invite you to do 2 things!
1. Swallow the terrible pill and accept how much racism still exists and
2. Stand up, and no longer be silent.
There is no room for even the slightest amount of racism. When you hear it or see it, speak up. Be an advocate against it and one day we will make America truly great.