In today’s political climate, it’s hard to imagine the world making sense anymore. There has been a large uptick in domestic terrorism and more hate crimes in the news and some that aren’t even reported or have been buried. The Black Lives Matter movement is being met with White Lives Matter and the White Nationalists. Even on the less violent side, the Black Lives Matter movement is met with All Lives Matter. Those who choose to be on the side of All Lives Matter while some being well-intentioned, completely miss the point. It’s not that one demographic’s lives matter more than others; it’s an acknowledgement that not everyone is truly gifted and treated with equal consideration and rights. To pretend otherwise is idiotic and just plain irresponsible. You can’t rewrite history because the darkness of the past and the actions continuing into daily life are something different to make yourself comfortable. This isn’t about groups of people complaining that they didn’t get a bonus or reward when someone else did. This is about people who have straight up been racially profiled to be a target deemed to live in fear. This is about people who are literally afraid to live their lives because they read and see the news that someone just like them ended up in the hospital or in the morgue. This is about people who were the victim of a “prank” or some “foolishness” and are basically told that what happened to them was their own fault while their tormentor gets a slap on the wrist or even worse goes scott-free entirely. How many more times do these instances need to happen before there is a change in mentality of how we treat each other? How many more victims have to be ready and cognizant to document their own troubles because their word isn’t enough to get even a report, much less an investigation? How many must die or put in the hospital before the light bulb turns on and there is a realization that the longer things stay the same, these instances will continue to happen? How much needs to happen before responsibility is taken to fix what is so broken about our society? Yes, all lives matter, but everyday another story shows that this sentiment means nothing and will continue to mean nothing until it stops becoming a pissing match of us vs them.
The two-edged sword of uncertainty is strong in the aftermath of the recent Presidential election. On one side, Trump supporters are certain of the seeming wave of change the election of a person with no political background to shake up the establishment; on the other side, those who don’t support President-elect Trump grapple with what was said during the campaign, the fallout resulting in increased animosity, and the fear of what could happen based on these things and the people that are being chosen to advise Trump as he prepares to assume the position of President of the United States. Day in and day out for the past week, I’ve seen my news feed on Facebook overflowing with news of various protests around the country, news of women and minorities getting treated like animals, insensitive comments on both sides of the aisle of those for and against Trump just being hateful. I sympathize with those like me who didn’t vote Trump and happen to be one of the marginalized groups targeted by many not all Trump supporters who don’t care about my rights as a fellow American citizen, only that I’m a black female and therefore don’t matter or am only the worst stereotype of black women or as being a woman in general, I shouldn’t have a right to decide entirely what happens with my own body. I also sympathize with the Trump supporters who are by no means racist and who voted for him in hopes for changing the course of this country for the better, who believed in his campaign slogan “make America great again” for ALL Americans. It pains me that we are a society that is obsessed with information but not necessarily the right information. If there’s something being reported that suits what we want to hear, we’ll go full force on it and won’t dig deeper to really figure out if it’s THE truth or just A truth. I have been disheartened by this election ever since Trump became a serious contender in the race and the mess of this election became more of a spectacle of mudslinging instead of a true quest of being the best candidate for the people. As President-elect Trump continues to prepare to take office, I wonder about the state of peace for this nation. I wonder if the rising hate and fear will stifle any hope that we could be pleasantly surprised by what happens once Trump does take office. Will the clashing feelings of uncertainty of what happens next be the self-fulfilling prophecy of a dark era? I guess at this point, we can only wait and see and hope that our nation doesn’t tear itself apart in the effort to gain the America we think is best.
This morning, we wake up in a reality in which a man who ran on hate, force and fear has won the American presidential election. Those who voted for Trump are understandably happy as they see a man who is not from a political background come up and beat a career politician. To them, it looks as if this is a start of change with someone who seems more like the “common man”. On the face of things, he looks very different from what we have seen in the political realm in some years. If we listen, we hear echoes of the past in which we shut down paths of equality to any who don’t look like us, sound like us, believe like us. We hear his own words tell us that he thinks less of women, minorities and those of the LBGTQ community. How he degrades them, how he warns them in spoken and unspoken ways to beware the days ahead. His main call to action is to “make America great again”. America is not perfect by any means, but it’s not on the verge of collapse either. There are many things that need to be fixed about it, but that can be said of anywhere on this planet. So, we fight to right those wrongs and improve for all. I can agree with that. I can’t agree with alienation for the sake of it. I cannot agree with hoarding fear as a weapon to control those we feel inferior to. I cannot condone a group, a feeling to be okay with mocking anyone, telling someone that they don’t matter, giving over a right to feel safe because I am black, female and support equality for my race, my sex and common decency no matter my sexuality. America is a fighter nation. Our foundation includes blood, sweat and tears. It was also founded on hope. We must continue to fight to continue to keep hope as a beacon for now and the future.
We must hold. We must hold on to the victories won before now. We must hold on to the hope that we can still come together as one nation, together and united. We must hold each other not because of fear only but because unity is something we have forgotten and division will never understand peace. Division will never realize the idea that understanding isn’t compliance; it is the willingness to listen and see before acting, to be willing to seek as much information as possible, to try to look at the whole picture, to want above all else what’s best for all. We hold because there is fear that is experienced every moment and now as much and some days even more so, there is every need for the fight for inclusion and courtesy and love and peace and unity and understanding. We must hold because the idea of losing has become more powerful than humanity. We have become a society so invested in win/lose mentality that we’ve lost sight of stakes and the real issues. We hold to decide if what we fight for makes us stronger or destroys us.
We love. Above all else, we must remember to love. Too many times, we see love in only a romantic or familial sense. Love has so much more reach than that. Love is the hardest thing to aspire to because in so many ways that we think of it, we tie so much selfishness to it. We forget the patience, the long-suffering qualities, the ability to stand up to fear, the kindness, quietness of it, the idea that, despite all the hate that runs through history, it has never failed. We must love in the face of hate because a world view guided by hate is a journey into darkness beyond morals extinguishing hope. We must love in the face of fear because fear is not lacking in hope, it is lacking guidance and understanding. It is seeing the unknown and rejecting it. It stands clutching the status quo because it is familiar, it is tangible in their minds. Love, in its purest form is easy to fear. It changes you, it expands the mind, it makes you question things for your sake as well as for the welfare of others. It gives light to shatter the dark and now more than ever we need that love to spread. For if we don’t fight for all, hold together in the face of that which would keep us divided, and love against all fear, we can never be truly great.
I’m going to start out by stating the obvious. We live in increasingly inflammatory times. News reports of police shootings of black civilians and protests resulting in the latest addition to the body count come nearly weekly. And in our time of easy technological access, we have video of these happenings that leave us with more questions than answers. The oath of the police is “to serve and protect”, but in watching the news, reading the papers and living while black, who are they serving and protecting? Now, before I go further with this, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not dumping on the police as a whole. There are still plenty of good ones out there who don’t deserve to be lumped in with the bad apples stirring the pot of unrest. They believe in their mission and that true law and order is available and should be given to all. I salute those men and women. I’m speaking out to the ones who are going “Old West” on civilians and are shooting first and building a story blaming the victim later. It’s not about hating police or hating white people. It’s about an anger, a hurting that a race is being executed for being the wrong color. I hate to break it to those who want to believe that the victim did SOMETHING to get the outcome that arose, but unfortunately, that has become less and less a case. Being in fear for your life for driving while black is real, for reading in public while black is real, for existing while black is real. How did things get so bad? Well, too many people put their heads in the sand and didn’t want to get involved if the trouble didn’t touch them personally. Too many fingers were pointed at everything but the real issues. Not enough people of other races mainly white were using their unique opportunity of speaking up for their brown friends, neighbors and acquaintances because they didn’t want even a grain of salt worth of the conflict that we brown-skinned people get on a sickeningly regular basis. Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. It’s a call to arms, a wake-up call that while all men were created equal, we all far from treating and being treated as such and that a stand must be made to put a constant glaring spotlight on this fact. It’s uncomfortable and it’s meant to be. Throwing around blame won’t do anything but keep the cycle nice and oiled up to keep spinning as it always has. So how about this? Let’s start showing some common decency? How about we sprinkle on some objectivity? How about we shout out some “I hear you, I see you” to the issues and realize that until we become strong enough to rip the Band-Aid off and treat the wounds that have been long festering in the background, we’ll keep having more of the same. If we all don’t wake up and get all hands on deck in this matter, we’re going to destroy ourselves from the inside out and all that will be left are the smoking remains of a nation meant to be built on the promise of hope and freedom.