Thursday, August 17, 2017

Speaking on Charlottesville

I've been silent on Charlottesville, but it's not because it hasn't been on my mind. These events are so saddening and frustrating to me on so many levels. I've read through so many different arguments posted online and not that I am a non confrontational person because those that know me well know I'm not one to avoid confrontation if I have something I really want to say. Too many are reacting with knee jerk emotional reactions, and I wanted time to observe people's reactions because we can't go back and change Charlottesville but our reactions are what are going to determine how many more Charlottesville we see.  I'm raising three children- white children- in a world where I thought we were moving towards a more equal, accepting world of diversity. My husband and I have spent over a decade teaching minority children and adolescents- and I don't stress that as some pat on the back- I stress that as I have a reason for saying what I'm about to say so listen to me.

Throughout all the varied arguments I have read there are a few things I've heard that I think are key.

1. We have to start listening instead of just reacting. That goes for both sides really. Insulting each other and name calling is going to get us nowhere. Is that how we teach our children to solve problems? In fact I'm kind of embarrassed about how childish I see so many adults acting online as we battle our political views and agendas behind computer screens. Now Charlottesville was flat out wrong and I'll get to all that in a minute but stepping back before Charlottesville there are many layers to what's going on in our country. Though I lean towards one side more than the other, there are a few things worth listening to from the other side. If we're not willing to listen and consider the other side to have a real conversation we're going to keep going nowhere.

2. There is a racial and injustice problem in our society and there is white privilege. It is there, people. Again I am white, I have white children, but we've been in the black/minority communities for over ten years, and I can tell you without a doubt it is there. Just as I feel educating my children to not just accept but love diversity, educating children of all races and religions as my life's profession, I also see it my duty to speak out and to not hold my silence. Believe me I have those very close to me that do not see the world the way I do- that think I'm too much of a "snowflake" for my hope for something better- but I was also raised to speak my mind and stand up for what I believe in so they're going to keep hearing what I have to say and maybe one day their thinking will start to change.

3. Please educate yourself. Honestly even though we all have free speech I'm getting to a point that if you don't have some kind of justified personal experience quit talking. We must educate ourselves before we start running our mouths- look for experiences that will open your mind, read something that will offer you a different perspective, talk and engage with people outside your cultural circle. If you have no personal experience with people of color, with immigrants, with a poor person, with a Muslim or someone of another religion what is your basis for condemning them. Seriously you have none; you're going off hearsay of what others want you to believe. Even if you have experience it should be with more than one because we have to quit judging a whole group on the poor actions of a few.  Some I think have no clue or experience that even warrants their anger to defend one side or the other. I just read this great book, All American Boys, co written by a white and black author, that did a great job of looking at the complexities of race and police officers and what they face on a daily basis.

4. The inner city violence of the black communities needs to be front and center of the BLM  just as much as the injustices they face from police. Again All American Boys did a fantastic job of showcasing both what police officers face on a daily basis and how they are not our enemy and still deserve our respect but it also showed how some are out of line with their reactions to the African American community and there is a need to hold those officers accountable. I support the peaceful protest movements of the BLM- obviously I don't support the riots that occurred and think no matter what those are not justified in anyway- but there is a serious concern for the state of our inner cities and the rate of homicide with black on black crime. I don't say this to justify white people's arguments to condemn  BLM but because this constant black on black crime is part of what creates the negative African American image and that image reflects negatively on the great amazing African American kids and families I personally know. I've also had students lose friends due to this but none yet to police brutality. We are losing African American youths in our streets and we need to start making that a focus too. This will require looking at systemic oppression and what to do about poverty (we need skill building education and jobs not welfare help but another political rant for another day)- all underlining problems to so much.

5.  Silence or not getting political is not the solution. This is not just going to go away. We all have a duty to work towards positive change and as much as some of us may be tired of the online political rants- online within our communities is where we start. We don't all need to be in Washington or running for the next political office because the change starts in our smaller communities and in our homes. Silence and saying you're not taking sides is choosing the side of the oppressor. If we are white we can easily say this doesn't impact me, and that thought right there is why we have white privilege. We- white people- need to be speaking up more now than ever! These moments are going to go down in history, people. If you've ever claimed you'd without a doubt be on such and such side when it came to ending slavery or the Holocaust now is your chance to really show the true colors of what kind of human you are. You can say this isn't as big as that or that I'm overreacting, but back in those days people obviously thought those things weren't as big of a deal either since they existed and had to choose their side. The sides of war aren't always so clear.

6. Hate is never right. I don't care what your excuse is. Hate groups and what they stand for are never the answer. Do you want to raise your child to be a bully, to be a wife beater???? My guess is probably not. If these people in Charlottesville or those supporting them claim to be patriots or Christians- wow what an insult. Did they forget we fought a war against the Nazis? But it's now patriotic to tote around a Nazi flag???  I've seen and read several churches speaking out against Charlottesville but I know of die hard Christians that push some very "right" ways of thinking and I just don't get it. God is about love and acceptance. Jesus wasn't white. They know that, right? I know the Anglo dominant world paints him as white and also translated the Bible to say what they wanted it to say (but I'm not going to get into a religious argument here either) but he was born in the Middle East. Pretty sure that means he probably had dark skin.

It's a messed up world out there right now, people. We can say it doesn't impact me and just choose to live in our little bubble, but what kind of future does that leave to our children. What we say and do right now matters.


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