Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Tale of Two Americas

As the media and social media have blown up with coverage and thoughts of the riots in Baltimore Monday attention is starting to be drawn to the Tale of Two Cities. But I don't think it's just a story of Two Cities but two Americas.

We all want to chant American pride and patriotism, and I am proud to be an American. I believe in what America stands for. I have friends in the military; friends that serve our communities as police officers, firefighters, and nurses; and friends like myself that have chosen to serve our country in the classroom by preparing our youth to give us a brighter, hopefully more peaceful tomorrow. But unfortunately what I think America stands for is sometimes the complete opposite of the "patriot" across from me.

We (as in my fellow teachers and public servants) serve the white, the black, the generational American, the immigrant American, the rich, the middle class, the poor, the heterosexual, the homosexual. We serve humanity. That is what we do. That is what being an American is to me.

I can't hardly take the derogatory comments about immigrants, blacks, homosexuals, and poor people anymore. America was never meant to be a place for the "chosen" people. Before anyone sits there on their high horse and pass judgment with their conservative views I challenge them to pick up a book like Savage Inequalities or The Other Wes Moore and so many others that show the struggle of the less fortunate or join the forces of police officers, teachers, nurses, and other public servants, or take part in a community program that's trying to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and really go out there and experience ALL of America. Walk through and emerge yourself even if just for the day in one of this less privilege areas of our country. See the America people don't want to see.  There is another America where opportunity does not live. Don't isolate yourself from it and don't isolate them from the opportunities and resources they so desperately need.

America is a beautiful, amazing place from the small towns to the big cities. It's rich in history about perseverance and diverse cultures. But America is hurting, and maybe it seems like the current concerns are about the issue of white and black. But I think it's more so about the issue of poverty and wealth; about power and oppression; about education and ignorance; about acceptance and rejection; about hope and lost hope. Stop pointing fingers and casting blame. There does need to be change; I don't think anyone can really argue that. So the bigger question is what are we each going to do to help facilitate that change?

Every generation has seen war. We go to war in other countries for the sake of all of humanity; to eliminate the wrongs and make things right. You don't have to go to war with guns a blazing to fight the war of today. The struggle is right here in our streets, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our rural areas. It's in our poor, under served city neighborhoods and rural communties, it's in the flocks of immigrants that flee their countries in fear of violence and disease for a better opportunity in our education systems, it's in the misguided youth that feel unaccepted and full of lost hope that just need someone to believe in them and give them a little direction.

There will always be those that don't want to help themselves; those that work against the progress that everyone else is trying to achieve. But just as we as teachers fight the 5% that make our jobs impossibly hard to reach the other 95% that want the education we can give them so do all those other public servants out there. They go out there in the streets, the hospitals, the communities and take the sometimes physical, emotional, and mental abuse because in the end we can save the future of more than the ones we can't. For every bad apple out there doing the wrong thing there are dozen of others doing the right thing and wanting to make the most of the resources provided to them to do better for themselves.

To me being American is helping your fellow man. America is about opportunity, hope, and freedom for all of humanity.  Don't keep them down with your judgments and biased views. Be a part of the solution; not the problem.
                                                             The War on Poverty in America
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