I am a warrior, mainly because the horrendous negativity of others is prevalent in current times and I use that as fuel to continue to be a warrior of love.
Martin Luther King said it best, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
I am not doing anything grandiose aside from actively trying to be a voice that changes the way others around me view things. I strive to open their eyes a bit and create a positive ripple effect.
My husband, Prash, and I went on a total solar eclipse road trip for approximately two weeks and stopped to see family and friends along the way. One stop was in Washington D.C. I was adamant to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Smithsonian. We were told we would not be able to get in because tickets continue to sell out months in advance. I asked and I received! Two kind employees let us in.
That museum changed my life for the better for two reasons:
Firstly, the vast amount of information that resides in that museum is amazing. It is filled with realities and truths even I was not aware of.
Secondly, the power of acknowledgement really hit home for me. I read plaque after plaque and watched movie after movie about how the US’s economy was built on the selling and purchasing of black bodies. There was a time in early slavery that being black was not the main criteria. It was a class system. There were servants/slaves of European descent, black descent and Native American descent. When wealthy colonists realized the slaves/servants were becoming allies, falling in love, running away together and building families and communities. The wealthy colonists began to feel threatened by the growing communities of the servant class. They decided black bodies were the key to their continued wealth, so they divided and conquered. That is when the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ became the differentiating factor of privilege, class and status. Blacks became slave possessions and being white spared you from the horrors of eternal slavery. If you were black, you were a slave and for life.
Now fast-forward to current day. We have racial profiling leading to murder, white supremacy groups flexing their muscles, systemic racism, arguments over historical statues. The division between races and minorities against the majority is still alive. This will continue for so many reasons but in my opinion, acknowledgement is a major issue. Nobody wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Dear White People
Many white people are comfortably living in a bubble. A bubble, where race is a non-issue. The phrase I often hear, I do not see color when I look at people. I kindly request you burst your own bubble. Please realize that you do see color. Acknowledge that racism is a problem every day for black people and people of color. It is worse for some than it is for others, but it is a constant struggle if you are black or a person of color. The sooner you acknowledge that there is in fact a racial divide, you can join fellow white allies who understand there is a privilege afforded to you for simply being white.
In my own personal experience, until I can walk into stores that sell extremely high end brands (that I can afford mind you) and be serviced like every other customer in the store and not be shooed out and told that Marshalls and TJ Maxx are down the street, the can’t we all be equal response does not work because unfortunately today, we are not all treated equally.
Dear Black People,
On the flip side, many black people, as much as I understand your anger and frustration for the inequalities that still exist, you must acknowledge and appreciate white allies. When you meet them, see them, treat them with love and respect, and sometimes that requires educating them when appropriate. Harboring anger can become too easy, but it is not effective. There are good people and bad people in every race/ethnicity/cultural group. Do not chastise a white person harshly. Then let a fellow black person or person of color slide when they perpetuate oppressive mindsets. We all need to rise up and join forces with one goal: end the narrative that white is superior and everything else is lesser.
Say No to Stereotypes
Together, let’s stop buying into stereotypes, stop adopting stereotypes, stop being the stereotype and/or assuming others are the stereotype. That alone can change the playing field for everyone. Own your uniqueness and shatter the restrictive ideas that have been thrusted on us by society. The more we shine as individuals, the more we allow others around us to shine. Maybe one day, equality will be a real way of life.
Until then, be brave, acknowledge each other’s strengths. Speak up when others are doing wrong in your circle. Shatter the stereotypes and labels you have of yourself and others. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and bravely Decide Bliss.
Main Photo credit: Prasant Pallikandi