September 11, 2001. The day will live in infamy. We remember the images. Planes crashing into buildings. Towers tumbling down. People racing through the streets of New York. A young father protecting his baby. A brave fire fighter kneeling in the street. Tears. Prayers. Flags. Love.
That Tuesday it didn’t matter that my ancestors were forced into this country 200 years ago in chains. I was an American and that united me with the victims. We were all Americans first that day. United. Under God. With a common grief. A common goal. A common gallantry. A common pain. This pain united and showed us the insignificance and unimportance of what we used to hold dear. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, race really didn’t matter to any of us. Things changed on September 12th.
On Wednesday, we began to hear stories of who might be responsible for these horrible acts. Our common heartache turned into a common hatred. The enemy was identified by his nationality and religion instead of his heart. Muslims across the country were victims of our fear. A store owner is beaten. A passerby spits on a young mother. Teens give the finger to an elderly gentleman who happens to be wearing a turban.
Why do we resort to hurtful behavior when we’re afraid?
Yes, Tuesday was a day to love and pray. Wednesday was a day to hate and blame. Why? Tuesday we embraced all of our differences. Wednesday we embraced only those who looked “American.” Tuesday we watched buildings fall. Wednesday we watched our values die. Tuesday race really didn’t matter. On Wednesday we targeted a race to hate.
Fear came naturally when America was attacked on September 11th. But that Tuesday was one day when race really didn’t matter. Some of us experienced more fear on Wednesday.
And what of today? Today we’re pretty much back to normal.
- Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked the Twin Towers and Pentagon? How did you feel when you heard the news?
- Was there a period after the tragedy, however brief, when you hated/distrusted Muslims?
- Have you ever been more cautious or suspicious of someone because of their race?
- What do you think of racial profiling? Is it necessary in some cases?
- How do you feel about the current immigration laws?
- What are your general thoughts of the “melting pot” America has become?
- Are there any stereotypes you believe to be true of another race?
- What is your biggest pet peeve about race relations in America?
*Excerpt from Let’s Talk about Race by Angela Dion (p. 87-89).
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier by becoming the first African American playing in a Major League Baseball game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Just 64 years ago…that’s amazing to me.
Seriously, can you imagine what it might have been like for Jackie Robinson to take the field on that spring day? What do you think about a national holiday? I think I’ll take some time to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day this year, what about you? Let’ talk…
This short video introduces the hour long Jackie Robinson Story. You might want to check it out. I’m not even a huge baseball fan, but feeling like I want to catch (pun intended) a game soon.
So far this month three black people have told me it’s unreasonable to trust the “white man.” Since the man I trust most in this world is my white husband, Marc, I beg to differ. Joyce Dowling from Race Matters in Prince George’s Co., MD & the USA is today’s guest blogger. She shares about the issue of trust and why it’s important in race relations.
All our lives we’ve been told who not to trust and who to trust (but in some cases more of the “not”). Sometimes we learn it at home, sometimes in the streets (our life experiences), sometimes in the books we read or the TV shows we watch or the music we listen to, and our friends and associations definitely influence our beliefs in who we can trust or not.
White people can’t trust black people; black people can’t trust white people. Rich people can’t trust poor people. Poor people can’t trust rich people. Business people can’t trust anyone who’s not a friend of a friend or someone highly recommended to them by someone they trust or someone they’ve done an extensive background check on (and they’re still human so they also can’t trust due to the previous reasons sometimes even with background checks).
Lack of trust keeps us from knowing each other. It keeps us from forming a close relationship. It keeps us from knowing people who are different from us. Sometimes it instills great fears of “the other.”
Prince George’s County has had a lot of crime reported in the paper. Reports of crime often make us fearful and makes it hard for us to trust people we don’t know, so then it makes it hard for us to get to know new people.
For many people, they go to church and hope that a similar belief system will help us trust each other and create a community that will allow us to get to know each other better. This community is also often not diverse. They say Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week.
When we meet new people, we often learn new things. When we can trust someone, we often can share in a deeper way and create a truer friendship and experience in life.
Besides a race divide is a class divided. America is the land of opportunity and yet it is not that easy to move out of the class you’re born in. Opportunities are not always equal, as the neighborhood and family we grew up in affects our ability to feel hope about what we can achieve.
It feels right to me to stretch my discomfort level to meet new people and try to get out of my box of fearfulness and distrust of “the other” and meet people who are very different than me. I belong to a multi-cultural church, but I also live in a diverse community where I’m trying to get to know my neighbors in a way that is truly understanding. When we feel trust to share more personally, things come out that we usually only tell close friends and family – sometimes racist remarks. I try not to react badly, though I do comment about how that makes me feel uncomfortable because I don’t believe that, but to listen to them express how they feel, helps me be able to communicate back to them in a way they can listen. I do believe that in this small way, I can change the way people feel about “the other” and help people feel more comfortable with “them.” In time, maybe there will be more “us” and our circle will get larger and leave fewer people out.
If people feel that someone is in their circle of trust and caring, will there be less hate? I think so. Will there be less violence? I hope so. Will it happen any time soon? No, it takes time and effort. Love your neighbor – whatever race or class.
Poet Phillis Wheatley, Actress Louise Beavers, Astronaut Guion Bluford, Chess Grand Master Maurice Ashley. Do you know these people? I didn’t either until I came across this site developed by Lawson State Community College as a salute to Black history. It is a collection of pictures of blacks with, “links that will enrich your knowledge of the past and present selfless contributions made by just a FEW of our MANY great African Americans.”
Some of the links aren’t good, but for the most part a great resource. You’ll probably recognize a lot of the faces, but check out some of the unfamiliar ones. I must warn you, however, this site can be addictive. You might end up spending a few hours exploring – I did.
So, is it a good idea to develop this resource? How do you feel in general about the concept of Black History Month? I know actor Morgan Freeman feels it’s a bad idea, thinking Blacks shouldn’t get a special month. I heard another speaker say she’s black every day of the year, not just in February.
All I know is that I usually spend extra time during the month of February learning black history. Not that I don’t learn about history during the other eleven months, but I’m more mindful of it in February – it gets more attention so it gets my attention more.
Can’t wait to read your thoughts on this. Let’s talk…
I attended the Charles County Unity in Our Community Diversity Forum on January 22, 2011. This year we concentrated on engaging the younger generation. I’ve noticed from the forum and from my own observations and discussions with younger people that we think differently about issues of race and diversity.
Charles County is unique in that it is racially diverse and generationally diverse already. Our youth see interracial couples, various religions, different cultures, etc. daily and don’t think twice about it. Maybe different communities would yield different responses.
These following observations are generalizations – of course not everyone would fit it to these categories, but here’s what I’m thinking. Feel free to weigh in, disagree, comment or share your own stories.
- Youth don’t feel like older people care what they think. We (older generation) tend to discount what they say, making comments like, “they’ll learn…it’s not all as easy as they make it sound…when they get in the real world, that perspective will change.” Well, perhaps all of that is true, but that doesn’t mean that what youth has to say is invalid. We could learn a lot by listening to some young people.
- Younger generations are fine with social networking, text-based and online communication. It’s easy for them to develop relationships with people who are different via technological means. Older people, again generally, are more leery of trusting these relationships, discounting them as superficial and, again, not as valid, as face-to-face relationships. But using these media really does open us up to a whole new world that we might not encounter if we stick with family, work and church.
- Younger people don’t care as much about history as older generations do. When older people insist younger people learn their history so they can be more informed about how we got where we are today, younger people tune out. They are more concerned with the present, here and now of life than delving into the historical. This is frustrating, especially to older people who feel they have fought to give young people the freedom they currently have.
- Younger people insist the best way to create a more diverse society is to step out of your comfort zone – join a club, community project, etc. and meet people who are different. They won’t consider how they are different, but will work towards the common goal and ignore the differences. Older people tend to focus on the diversity, want to learn more about differences and their conversations tend to go that way. I’ve been frustrated with this one in my own house, when my 19-year old can’t answer basic questions about his friends’ culture or family life. He doesn’t care about these things as much as I do.
- Lastly, I’ve observed that younger people are less likely to judge outward appearances. They don’t care about tattoos, religious dress, piercings, clothing, etc., as much as we do. They find almost everyone approachable and don’t fear outward differences. In my group at the Diversity Forum I asked the older generation how they typically react when they see a group of teens at the mall, especially if they had dyed hair, baggy pants or tattoos. Almost all admitted they didn’t want to get to know these kids and tended to avoid them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and this. Let’s talk…
Also, for Southern Maryland residents who are interested in learning more about African American history, here’s a new class at CSM – starts next week so check it out today!
NEW! African- American Heritage of Southern Maryland PEP-7950 (2 CEUs)
Did you know that famed North Pole explorer Matthew Henson was born and raised in Charles County? Or that Harriett Elizabeth Brown successfully sued the Calvert County School Board in 1937 for equal teacher pay with the help of lawyer Thurgood Marshall? Or perhaps you knew that African indentured servant Mathias de Sousa was among the first Saint Mary’s County residents in 1634. Join other African American history buffs and genealogists as we explore the major people, places and moments in Southern Maryland African American history.
Tuition: $10.00, Fees: $117.00 89841
Dates: 02/03/11-04/14/11, Th 6-8 p.m. Location: HT719-LAPL
Register here: http://www.csmd.edu/Training/Register/index.html
How do you think Dr. King would feel today about race relations in America? Do you think the answers to that question might vary based on age: would a teenager answer differently from someone in their 30’s, what about someone who marched with Dr. King?
I’ve worked with teens and know they do think differently than most adults on a lot of issues related to race and diversity: the use of the N word, humor as it relates to race, interracial relationships, etc. Can you think of other issues? Do you think age matters in regards to thoughts and feelings about diversity? Have your views changed as you’ve aged?
Charles County, MD residents will explore this issue at the 2011 Unity in Our Community Diversity Forum. We will have a panel of teens and young adults, keynote speaker Joe Madison and the highlight of the forum will be the small group discussions. If you can, come learn and discuss generational differences in issues of diversity.
This is a free event and lunch will be provided. The Diversity Forum will take place at the College of Southern Maryland, Saturday, January 22, 8am – 2pm. Find out more and register here http://www.charlescounty.org/unityinourcommunity/.
If you can’t make the event, I will post some general observations on this blog in the next week or so.
Today, take some time to ask someone of a different generation the opening question in this post.You might also be interested in listening to the “I Have a Dream” speech and discussing that with someone of a different generation.
I’d love your feedback. Let’s talk…
Today’s post is a poem from guest blogger Claire M. Delacruz. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks Claire for your contribution.
By: Claire M. Delacruz
Bayang magiliw, Perlas ng Silanganan,
Alab ng puso, Sa dibdib mo’y buhay.
And the rockets red glare
The bombs bursting in air…
Which one am I really?
You look at me, but what do you see?
Filipino? Or American?
I am born here, in the U. S. of A.
On December 22nd, a beautiful day.
I am a U. S. citizen
And Philippines I’ve rarely been.
But pinay blood running through my veins
Being Filipino, I ain’t got no shame.
I eat rice and tsinelas everyday
And understand when nanay says, “Magandang Gabe”
“Maremeng Salamat, Po” is what I say
I think that being brown is A-Ok
And being true to my culture is the only way
To be, Me.
You see, even though I live here,
My Filipino heritage is near
To my heart. Right from the start.
Don’t worry, I’m still devoted to the Red, White and Blue.
But add the Yellow and you know what that do.
You see both flags wavin’ in the air.
Flappin’ in harmony and beautifully fair.
It’s just like you and me,
Beautifully, Filipino and American, you see.
So don’t deny who you are
You can’t change those stars
BE WHO YOU ARE.
Here are some questions Claire asks us to consider. Let’s talk…
· How comfortable were/are you with your culture and ethnic traditions?
· How do you identify yourself? For example, Filipino? American? Filipino-American? American-Filipino? Multicultural? Why?
· Did you/do you feel like you experience an internal struggle in regards to identifying your cultural identity?
· Do you feel you need to express your cultural pride? How ? If not, why?
· Can you relate to this poem in anyway? How?
About the Author: Claire M. Delacruz has been writing since the age of ten, but began performing her poetry in high school. She has been a featured spoken word artist throughout her college and post-collegiate career in various poetry events, open mic nights and cultural festivals around San Diego. Claire continues to write and performs sporadically throughout Southern California. Her poetry is based upon her life experiences and ponderings in friendship, love, faith, her Filipino-American identity, as well as current social issues. Claire loves to incorporate music and singing into her poetry and constantly looks for ways to grow in her writing and performance.
Not everyone who disrespects a black man is a racist. There, I said it. It all started when the Washington Redskins (sorry, let me get the story out while using that word) benched quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The Skins started out well but the season slipped away quickly after a few tough loses. McNabb was not to blame for all the team’s problems I’m sure, but when the coaches decided to bench him during the last three games this season, people started murmuring that the decision was race-related.
Really? Really? Do you honestly believe if McNabb was playing like Michael Vick he would have spent those games on the bench? Really? Was this a race-related decision? It’s so incredulous to me that a group of people believe this to be a direct result of McNabb being African American. It seems it’s not so much about him being benched but about the “disrespect” involved.
Some examples of the racism protests came from sportswriter and PTI co-host Michael Wilbon, former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw and a couple of guys I work with.
Am I crazy? Naïve, perhaps? Do I really not see the obvious racism? Or am I the sane one here? Or is this another case of crying wolf where nothing really exists? Could it be that McNabb did a bad job? I’m thinking McNabb was benched because his numbers were mediocre. And the Skins season was over and it was time to prepare for the future. Lastly, McNabb will end up with at least $3 million if he’s cut next season. Where’s the racism in that?
Black folks, we need to pick our battles and tread carefully here. If we cry race too often where it doesn’t necessarily exist, no one will pay attention when the real atrocities occur. And trust me, they do, this is just not one of them…in my opinion.
What’s your opinion? Let’s talk…
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Does the phrase, “Merry Christmas,” offend anyone? I found myself suprised early this week when a bank teller actually said Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. I know some companies force their employees to say Happy Holidays. When did this become the norm? Don’t most people still celebrate Christmas? Are those who don’t celebrate Christmas offended by those of us who say we do? In my opinion the main problem with political correctness is that the purpose is to make the minority feel comfortable while the majority has to suck it up or be labeled insensitive. I’m saying Merry Christmas! What do you think? Let’s talk…
I’m not a racist, I just don’t like working with white people.
God forbid the white man state the facts, because that would make us racist.
Those Tea Party people are nothing but a bunch of racists.
Racism is obviously still in existence, just look at the election results.
Why do you always pull the race card?
Anyone who thinks like that is a racist.
Just sharing some words I’ve heard recently.
Racist is a difficult word. People don’t know quite how to define it but it seems we’re quick to use it almost as a deflection to furthering the conversation. For example, if I disagree with you and you call me a racist, now I have to defend that instead of getting on with the discussion. Or if you assume because I vote a certain way, I’m a racist, you won’t listen to or respect my political views that may differ from yours.
I’m challenging you this week to choose and use your words carefully. Words are powerful and dangerous. You never know how your words can impact someone else’s life for good…or evil.
Think before you speak (or type) the word “racist.” Consider how your words might change the perception of your character. Try not to resort to name calling and assuming what’s in someone else’s heart and mind. Try to stick to the facts and the subject at hand. I’m saying; don’t call anyone a racist, even if you think they are. Observe how much further and more respectful the dialogue proceeds.
One of my favorite quotes is from Rudyard Kipling, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drugs used by mankind.”
Do you agree with this statement? What words have you used recently that you regret? Have you called someone a racist? Has anyone ever called you a racist? How did that feel? Let’s talk…
This post is only about one word, many others evoke as much, if not more, emotion. Think about it…