Friday, June 5, 2020

Unrest in the Land of Opportunity

COVID-19, Protests, Unemployment, Violence & Hurricane Cristobal.  What’s next?  Where is the Love?  What do we do?  How do we survive?  Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has a principle: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Well, some things I just don’t understand.  It reminds me of an old song “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations, just change some of the words.  We need God now more than ever.

I was 14 when I saw a riot while living in Philadelphia; and it wasn’t pretty.  I went to an all-black Catholic Elementary school and wasn’t allowed out at night.  I remember that the 2 grocery stores (Fagan’s & Barney’s) were burned down and other businesses on Ridge Avenue.  There was nothing wrong with the white people who owned the stores; as a matter of fact, they extended “credit” to those who didn’t have any money until their next government check was in the mail.  These store owners kept food on many a table.  I never thought that I would experience such looting and building burning nonsense again in my lifetime until now.  I am saddened.

White people are more apprehensive now than ever before (To To Where Are We?).  Some are afraid of retaliation or being seen as the enemy.  This situation is like “wearing a mask”.  Do we think of how wearing a mask is helping ourselves, or does wearing one help others around us?  What will I gain verses what someone else is dealing with?  How can I make this world a better place, is the question that we would be asking ourselves?  I’m tying to understand – are you?  How does the song, “We Are The World” come into play today?

Businesses have been looted and that causes more increase on unemployment, nevertheless, looting was not done by protestors, but by greedy, lawless, immature people who wanted to obtain something from nothing.  Because of their acts of violence, we have to earn the right to be respected.  Once again, all protestors are not rioters!

The “Pledge of Allegiance” still does not give equality for all.  Blacks have recited this poem for decades and it never pertained to black people.  We have tried to obtain liberty and justice for all, yet we haven’t started to get justice until these recent days.

Colin Kaepernick (and now, many others) are taking a knee.  It’s not about putting our hands over our heart and standing up tall.  We need to respect the American Flag for what it stood for.  The flag represents the lives that were lost during wartimes and the colonies that were set free, but are we all free?  Now we are fighting another war; a war of hatred that exists in the minds and hearts of some people.  If “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem is wrong, consider it part of the “New Normal” instead of a sign of disrespect.  We are NOT disrespecting the American Flag, yet America is NOT being “Great Again”.  We are living in a time of change, and it’s time to SEE a difference made in our lifetime.  It would be lovely to exist in a land where you’re not judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character.

My heart aches for those biracial couples and their children who may experience racial slurs, criticism, or bullying.  This hatred has got to stop being spread from generations to generations.  Hatred seems to be another form of virus that is spreading throughout the land.

We live in a cul-de-sac and are the only blacks in the neighborhood.  Just like a place where we lived in New Mexico, we didn’t realize that we were the only blacks until we relocated to a city in the south.  I was respected more in Europe and Asia than I am living here in the US.  And it’s a shame that I am reminded of words spoken in the past, “If you don’t like it here, go back to Africa where you belong.”  Yes, I remember those thoughtless words and a tear comes to my eye.

The other day I was in Walmart getting supplies to make masks.  As I walked down the aisle (in the correct direction) a white man stared at me directly into my eyes.  He was unmasked and I could see the distain in his eyes.  I checked myself and made sure that my hair wasn’t making me look crazy √.  It happened again with another man standing in line.  I had to check√ again, I was standing 6 feet from him √, wearing my mask √, my deodorant hadn’t failed √.  You want to talk about “a new normal”, we are living in a “new abnormal”.  Things will never be the same again, and some things we hope will change for the better.  Nonetheless, I continue to smile beneath my  mask in hopes that they see the love of Christ through my eyes.

If any of my friends feel uncomfortable about what’s happening today, please listen to “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” - former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, as he tries to explain some of the issues that black men go through.  It has been awhile since I’ve had to think about inequality (2007), nevertheless, I will continue to pray and make changes whenever and wherever I can.

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