When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.
It is time we stop our blithe lip service to the guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These fine sentiments are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, but that document was a declaration of intent rather than reality.
This quote, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., resonated with me in such a way today that I feel compelled to write. As Claire and I have begun to really shape and contour our personal branding business, we find ourselves in the discussions necessary, around the many issues that face the country, to help our clients think more deeply. While the world around us continues to grow and change, it seems the pressing issues that divide our nation continue to stay the same. Today, as we all remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I look back on this year and can’t help but feel disappointed in the American people, our justice system and the conversation surrounding race relations.
Let me get a few things out of the way:
I am white.
I know that I experience privileges and pardons because of my skin color.
I will never know what it feels like to be of any other ethnicity.
I will spend my entire life aware, concerned and educating myself about others and their personal and societal injustices.
That being said, we are just not getting it right, folks. Our country has become so absolutely hell-bent on being politically correct that we continue to build walls, create differences and marginalize people based on their skin color. We’re all going to have to come to an agreement to move forward. Hatred, bigotry and racism is taught… on all sides.
I’ll never forget being a first grader in Mrs. Stewart’s class. I had the biggest crush, in the whole wide world, on a boy named Henry. I had a crush so big that when I got my Yearbook, I happily drew an enormous heart around his cute little face. I wanted Henry to be my boyfriend.
A member of my family most certainly did not. In fact, I was informed, “you don’t date n******.”
While I’m very proud to say that quote came from neither of my parents, the impact was the same. I’m disgusted that it came from anyone at all. The problem is, that conversation happens in every race. Although my parents have, in my opinion, always been proponents of love and equality for everyone in our home and our community, it explains why, at 22, I was hesitant to introduce the idea of my new love interest to my parents. His name was Charmel and, while I saw so many things aside from a skin color, I knew that to everyone else, that was first.
WHY ARE WE STILL HERE? Why are we still glowing about electing a “black” President? Why hadn’t we had one before? Why does it matter what color a person is if they are the best person for a job? Why is everyone so afraid of just seeing another person for who they are? Why are we so damn stubborn?
Please don’t answer those in my comment section.
Call me idealistic. Call me crazy. But, people, we have got to move in to 2015. The conversation starts at home. I don’t care if you are Chinese, Indian, Hatian, Afghani, Irish, Russian or from mars… if we don’t stop blaming others and start blaming ourselves for the lack of empathy, compassion and understanding for our fellow man, whether that’s based on religion, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, we are all going to face the consequences and much more.
More children feeling alone, burdened and outcast. More school shootings.
More discrimination by the law. More Mike Browns.
More economic divide. More children who go home hungry from school.
More religious tension. More intense and unending war.
More judgement based on gender identity. More Leelah Acorns.
Our future doesn’t have to be a path of no return. We have the power to create change. All of us.
It’s the ‘good men,’ as Dr. King said, who have to plan to seek to bring into a real order of justice. Be the good man who makes it known that discriminatory and prejudice conversation isn’t okay. Be the good man who stops to help a stranger. Be the good man who spreads kindness and joy. Be the good man who pays it forward at the grocery store. Be the good man and watch how one person, in one community, can begin to encourage others to do the same.
Be the good man. You’d be surprised.