I know my next post was supposed to be my ongoing “Best of” in New York, but I just can’t. I can’t bring myself to post. Every time I go to post a photo of my food, my work, my day…I’m stopped by this tug.
The tug I feel is deep in my being, in my heart and in my head. It’s time for REAL TALK.
For those who don’t know, my day job is actually in the Advancement Office of a school, so fundraising is something we do and talk about every day. This Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) has really thrown me for a loop. My initial thought was that this was a pretty brilliant strategy for charitable giving. It wasn’t even started by the organization itself but by one person who actually has ALS. What started as a few posts on Facebook has now gone insanely VIRAL with videos from my students, my friends, my family and even from celebrities, politicians, athletes and those with ridiculous influence.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of the challenge. In fact, with a very close friend whose dad lost the battle to ALS years ago, it hits very close to home for us. It’s a terrible debilitating disease which presently has no real treatment or cure. And I love that this has touched SO many people and encouraged them to put their money into action. No, I’m not a hater, but maybe I’m a little jealous.
Maybe I’m jealous for the many other causes, the other organizations, the other diseases and more importantly, the other injustices that aren’t getting the same kind of voice, the same support, the same camaraderie, the same publicity and action.
To see the impact of this challenge– the more than $15-million dollar impact — I can’t help but think about the others that aren’t benefiting from this popularity and “peer pressure” that seems to be spurring everyone and their brother into action.
I can’t help but think about the gravity of the headlines coming out of Ferguson, Missouri.
There is a current humanitarian crisis happening in our country even still. The crippling reminder that for some ungodly reason in America today — in 2014 — the color of your skin STILL somehow determines the value of your life.
In 2014, parents with sons and daughters of color STILL have to have “the talk”. Not the sex talk but THE talk. The REAL TALK with sons and daughters of color, explaining the injustice and reality that people are going to have preconceived judgements on who they are based on their skin color. The REAL TALK that because of their skin color, they may be stereotyped as criminals and not afforded the same rights and freedoms as others in this “land of the free”.
The REAL TALK that goes something like this…“If you are stopped by a cop, do what he says, even if he’s harassing you, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Let him arrest you, memorize his badge number, and call me as soon as you get to the station. Keep your hands where he can see them. Do not reach for your wallet. Do not grab your phone. Do not raise your voice. Do not talk back. Do you understand me?”
The REAL TALK that white parents don’t have with their white children. White privilege, y’all.
That’s REAL TALK for me, too. I can’t ignore the reality that because of my skin color, I’ve never had to worry about such things. Because I am a woman and I am white, I don’t think twice about being racially-profiled. That’s a concept not in my personal vocabulary. But for the many children of color that walk through my school’s hallways each year, it IS a part of theirs. Even the sweet five-year-old hearts that enter Kindergarten, it’s already a reality for them.
And it breaks my heart.
I can’t seem to shake it. These are sons and daughters, people. I’m reminded of that scene in A Time to Kill, (a film that’s set in the 1980’s mind you) when the young lawyer is recounting the brutal rape of a young African American girl by two white men. The girl’s father shot and killed the two men and was now on trial for his life. The all-white jury sat with their eyes closed as he described it all in gruesome detail. The last sentence struck me and even sends me over the edge today…Jake Brigance says, “Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl…”
“Now imagine she’s white…” He said this and their eyes were opened.
Student Body at Howard University
It’s time we open our eyes. Let’s open our eyes to our hidden biases. Let’s open our eyes to the reality that’s happening in our country today. Let’s open our eyes and ask ourselves why in 2014, we still have to ask people to imagine these children of God as “white” to make them FEEL something and move them to action and to change.
“…And until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be even-handed. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices.”
There’s the challenge. What would the response be if I tagged three people to respond and act on THAT injustice? I don’t know exactly what the call-to-action is from here or how to respond with more than words…but, maybe you could join me in examining our hearts as we acknowledge that all lives matter and have equal value.
Consider this girl tagged.