Love is the Color: Racism, Reflections and Resources in 2020
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Love is the Color, and Love Sees No Color is what I believe to my core. My heart hurts as I open my eyes to what continues to go on in the USA and in the world to our black brothers and sisters.
As Will Smith said in 2016, "Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed".
While blatant acts of dehumanization and racism are happening, we now have the ability and power to film what's happening and share on social media to millions. When I look back 10 and 20 years we didn't have the access to do so for free like we do now. This alone gives everyone a voice.
Black lives matter. Period. Some may scoff and say, all lives matter. I don't. I say Black Lives Matter because as long as we allow racism to continue, all lives don't matter. Have you read about the history of black lives?
That your friends grandmother or grandfather or great grand parents were not even allowed to vote, use the same bathrooms or doors as whites, or were beaten or killed as slaves owned by another person? That it was a fight for freedom at every turn, and that fight continues today?
Have you opened your eyes and hearts to what black lives have suffered? Now, like Matthew McConaughy said in Time to Kill, now imagine she/he is white.
For years, I haven't watched the news, but I keep a pulse through social media, Google, and/or will read or listen to sources I trust who are focused on love, mercy, grace, and justice. When George Floyd was killed, I felt compelled by God to watch the video.
To imagine what happened to George as a representation of a close friend, brother, sister, father, husband. I bawled like a baby when I watched the video. I shook uncontrollably as I watched the horror unfold as he pleaded for his life with his last breath in 2020. An anger rose up inside me as I watched the indifference, disconnection, and inhumanity on the officer's face. Normally, I wouldn't have watched it.
I felt like God wanted me to see, feel, and stand with black lives in unity. I feel more than ever the awareness and action each of us takes to educate ourselves, have the conversations, and face the atrocity and evil that has continued for generations is of the utmost importance. In a day and age where we have access online to reach millions of people in seconds, inspiring for positive change with our voice, influence and platforms is essential.
Love is the Color: Racism, Reflections and Resources in 2020, I am sharing reflections in my own journey, racism history, and resources to increase awareness and action. My challenge for myself, you, and this platform is will we be proud of our thoughts, words, and actions during our lifetime?
Starting with Awareness of Privilege
If you haven't watched the video of "Life of Privilege in a $100 Race", I highly recommend you do. The coach lines up all the people up for a $100 race. He starts off the activity by sharing statements that allow the person to take two steps forward like:
1) Both parents being married
2) Growing up with a father
3) Access to private education
4) Free tutor growing up
5) Never worried about cell phone shut off
6) Didn't have to help mom and dad with bills
7) No worries about where next meal comes from
He has all the students turn around and emphasizes all of the above has nothing to do with anything they've done, or any decisions they've made. It shows you and us the disparities that exist among us, and that many of us grow up with a privilege or a white privilege.
In 1988, Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack". She shared insights into how the origins and legacy are racism. They include elements including influences in television of mostly seeing whites, shampoos and cosmetics catering to whites, and hiring practices of white sounding names.
McIntosh shares the powerful psychological phenomenon of white privilege—a subconscious prejudice perpetuated by white people’s lack of awareness that they held this power. Essentially, that a white person moves through live with relative ease and comfort for centuries compared to the hardships, obstacles, and atrocities faced by African Americans.
Whether you have experienced life as black, white, and/or another race it is important to realize the psychology of privilege, as well as the impact of racism on black lives individually and collectively.
History of Racism
In the Smithsonian, Meilan Solly shares how between 1525-1866, over 12.5 million people were kidnapped from Africa through the transatlantic trade. It is estimated that about 4 million people survived and were enslaved in the USA. What is happening in our nation and world today originated almost 500 years ago. People were treated like a commodity, yet abused and used worse than most people treat their dogs.
Keep in mind, how America has historically taught slavery in textbooks includes a sanitized version on heroes like Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass. What about the stories of those who remained slaves their entire lives and/or were killed at their masters hands?
Not only that, but that at least 12 US presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ulysses Grant owned slaves. What is interesting is that George Washington's will noted his slaves to be set free within a year of his widows death. She freed them within a year of his death. These historical accounts show us the inherent psychological struggle even slave owners had.
One example includes the state of Texas which included 29 Jim Crow laws passed. These laws, also known as Black Codes, mandated "separate but equal" for public facilities were passed from 1865-1866. In reality, the facilities were far inferior. As recent as 2017, Texas schools falsely taught that the main causes of the Civil War was state's rights and not slavery.
The Whitney Plantation in Louisiana opened in 2014 to the public shares the history of slaves working the fields, and the plantation owners who grew rich off their labor. Whipping and rapes were not uncommon historically in slavery as a whole. As put by William T. Allan, a slaveowner's abolitionists on who could not safely return to Alabama, "cruelty was the rule, and kindness the exception".
Although Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the decree took two and a half years to enact. On June 19. 1865 was when General Gordon Granger decreed the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas were officially free - this is known as America's second independence day - Juneteenth.
Even after mass movement to the North, about 90 percent of slaves remained in the south captive by circumstances, debt, and years of bondage.
These snapshots of historical moments are tips of the iceberg within hundreds of years of history in the United States. The historical influence of this history has not gone without consequence impacting our racial, economic and educational institutions.
We are now nearing 200 years after the Emancipation, yet we still see evidence of generations upon generations passing fear, judgement, oppression and or racism.
Three Pillars of Transformation
I believe transforming rests on three pillars of:
Resources for Racial Change
These are some of the resources which have impacted my own awareness, acknowledgement and action. I encourage you to seek various resources as you grow in your own journey.
Organizations & Museums
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Black Lives Matter
Equal Justice Initiative
National Civil Rights Museum - Memphis, TN
Martin Luther King Center - Atlanta, GA
Civil Rights Museum - Atlanta, GA