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
Martin Luther King, Jr
The Conscious Kid
From Privilege to Progress
I Am Not Your Negro
Becoming (Michelle Obama)
THUG (The Hate You Give)
Our Cuba Retreat
My Background & Experiences in Diversity
As early as elementary and middle school, myself and my friends became activists for racism in different ways. Among many ways we took a stand included publicly wearing T-Shirts, Love Sees No Color to school.
I wasn't born in this country. I was born in Poland to a Polish mom and Bulgarian father. We came to this country by the time I was two years old. Like many of us, I was shaped by how I grew up, who I was surrounded by, as well as my desire to be love and express love. 1 John 4:18
From a young age, I was exposed to all kinds of races. By six months of age, I was surrounded by a heavily Asian community at a refugee camp in Italy. When we immigrated to South Carolina before I was two years old, I saw all beautiful skin colors including black, white, and hispanic.
I witnessed an outpouring of love at the refugee camp when I was showered with attention and love as the only baby. The same thing happened in South Carolina when neighbors welcomed us foreigners with open arms. My mom still tells me countless stories of neighbors surprising my family with gifts all the time. Unconditional love was taught, shared and modeled especially by my mom.
It's easy to see how and why my heart early-on craved diversity in every way. We continued to travel overseas summers after I turned six years old continuing my exposure around the globe with Poland, Bulgaria and other countries.
As early as five years old, I fearlessly went door to door to homes of all races to share girl scout cookies. My friends in elementary school included Pillar, Rozerick, and Tanya. Pillar was hispanic, Rozerick an African-American, and Tanya from Germany. Rozerick and I played basketball almost every day.
This diversity continued on in Smith and Chancellor elementary in Houston, TX with Marie, Uyenly, and Emine. Friends from France, Turkey, and Vietnam among many other friends.
From the start, I had the beautiful skin colors of the rainbow all around me.
In middle school, two of my closest friends were Timika and Shannon both African-American. Some of my other great friends included Isabel, Lorena, Kristin, and Lisa, who were hispanic and caucasian respectively. I focused my friendships on love, openness, and joy. Many of these friendships lasted for years, and decades and continue to varying degrees today.
From time to time, I would witness acts of bias or racism in and out of school often speaking up for and with my friends. I have dated interracially, and believe my family and children will be mixed.
In college, I met Angela and Janelle - both African-American - who we started Millennium M.O.D.E.L.s. in 2010 in college, an organization still active today focused on activism, empowerment and community service. Our organization is over 80% African-American.
We created reading programs, domestic violence awareness, scholarship pageants, and fundraisers among many projects. In the process, we became best friends and lived together about 2 years when I was in graduate school. I met Lindsay through them both who they have been friends with since elementary.
We spent events, travel, birthday celebrations and Christmas's that are so full of love in every way. I have been a bridesmaid in all African-American including Janelle's and Lindsays, and Hispanic weddings multiple times.
During college, I was avidly involved in NAACP, and regularly attended meetings and fundraisers. I participated in events and fundraisers including writing a poem and co-producing a poem with a song by Jael Miller - a fellow student.
They both pledge Delta Sigma Theta. As I was evaluating various sororities, even before they pledged I decided DST aligned best for me. The spring they pledged I was graduating. I later found out from a great friend of mine in the sorority that the only reason I wasn't accepted was because I was graduating that Spring which she didn't have to tell me.
About a year later, I was approached by the graduate chapter back in Huntsville, TX to pledge. At the time, I was already working full-time at the credit union. I prayerfully considered pledging and decided I wouldn't at the time, but remained open to the possibility.
I regularly was invited to Delta, as well as all African-American events. After college, I ended up going to Las Vegas with Janelle to a Delta Sigma Theta Convention with her sorority sisters. Many of them suggested Janelle invite me. Keep in mind, I was the only Caucasian girl.
You may imagine with all this openness and history, I was exposed to numerous conversations and experiences increasing my awareness, acknowledgement and actions.
Any time I travel, I find myself connecting to people of all races globally at airports, on the plane, and at destinations easily. When I create retreats, I make it a point to have diversity expressed with black lives matters, as well as other ethnicities.
Yet, in all my diverse interactions whether in all African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or mixed circles, I felt freely and comfortably myself. People often commented curious about my comfort and ease around everyone. I truly believe it is a God-given gift.
I continue to seek friendships and organizations that express and show love, abundance and community in different ways.
Your history may be different than mine. I encourage you to open your heart and mind. I would not be who I am today without each and every precious soul in my life. I know and feel daily black lives matter.
Challenging Myself and FIT Life Creation to Grow
In the midst of how racism is being filmed now and in my and your face, I have felt pulled to not only dedicate time for awareness and acknowledgement but to increase my actions. I challenge myself to open my eyes to historical, as well as current events. I regularly have conversations with my black friends, family, and other friends.
In 2020, I have increased researching credible resources for racism and equality. I participate in various events and movements. I watch movies like Just Mercy, Brian Banks, Thurgood, Green Book, and 16 Shots. In addition, I have shared views on social media of Love Sees No Color and my history. I have reached out to the NAACP Chapter in Atlanta to increase involvement.
On a business level, I monitor our brand presentation for inclusion from our online presence e.g. home pages, blog, social media, and newsletters to our live events for representation and honor of black lives matter. I look for petitions to sign and have signed a minimum of seven this year. I advocate and use my voice for reaching out to the Attorney General and Mayor like I did for the case of Breonna Taylor.
If I was married and a mom already, I would have regular conversations, align in organizations and events together, and include my children avidly
Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Purple or Pink - How are you challenging yourself on a personal or professional level?
Credit: Octavia Lease Photography Atlanta
Love is the Color and Sees No Color
Love is the Color: Racism, Reflections and Resources in 2020 intention is to help you increase your awareness, acknowledgement and action. We all come from different histories and backgrounds. Get to know your own, and your own blind spots.
Reflect on how you may increase your own mercy, love, and grace towards others on their journey. Love no matter what.
What are some of your thoughts on racism, reflections and resources? Is Love the color for you?
If you love this post, you will love 2020 Reflections of an Entrepreneur.
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