Sunday, July 14, 2013

50 Years Forward, 20 Years Back?

Ephesians 6:12-18 NIV (1984) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

            This year marks the 50th Anniversary of major accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL and across the United State of America.

             This year, the Supreme Court declared that there is no longer a need for the federal government to protect African Americans from voter discrimination in areas that have a history of doing so.
             This year, one of America's most beloved public figures, Paula Deen, was accused by a former Caucasian female employee of discriminating against her African American employees by making them use a separate entrance and bathroom than their non-black counterparts. 
            This year, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of senselessly killing Trayvon Martin, an African American 17 year old teenager, because he looked like he didn't belong in his neighborhood.
             I've wanted to write a post about race relations in America for sometime now but I didn't know how to put my feelings in a coherent way for my intended audience to really "hear me." I'm afraid that they really don't want to "hear me" because they are convinced racism in America is dead and want African Americans to stop bringing it up.
            I desperately want my Caucasian coequals to stop suggesting we forget about racially charged events that happened in the past. Why? Because they are still happening in the present- for example the killings of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Sean Bell in 2006, and James Byrd, Jr. in 1998 just to name a few. These are indications that discrimination against African Americans is still very prevalent in today's society.  
            Please stop asking us to forget when my own father- who was active in the United States Air Force at the time- was threatened in the late 60s by white men for driving a car that looked too expensive for a black man to own. I desperately want you to see why some of us  believe racism still exists. If you can't understand at least consider the possibility that because it didn't happen to you and/or people you identify with, it's hard to imagine.
             I remember when James Byrd, Jr. was lynched by dragging in Jasper, TX by three white men. I'll never forget, it was my first day at Camp Anytown, Alabama- a week-long camp designed to teach high school students how to fight bias, bigotry, and racism in their communities.  Some of the most wonderful people I know, I met through Camp Anytown. While we were cut off from the outside world, the very thing we were there to learn how to prevent had occurred. The directors felt it was important to pause from their regular programming to share this news with us.
             Often, I wonder that when we have open forums about race in America, are we really engaging in meaningful discourse or is our main objective to defend our positions? Is anyone actually willing to alter their position?
            We have five months left in 2013. How can we ensure that the rest of this year better exemplifies the triumphs America achieved in 1963? Let's remember that we are fighting against evil and not against each other as we move forward towards the 75th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. Hopefully, we won't have to have this discussion in 2038.

1 comment:

  1. Powerful! Also, you're younger than I am if you were at Anytown in 1998. What a great program!