Dreaming In The Face of Racism

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 3.47.45 PMRecently I wrote a guest post for the blog of UK author, Siobhan Curham. Siobhan has a new book called Moonlight Dreamers and during an email conversation with her I expressed my hurt over recent events in America. Siobhan invited me to write on that subject and to share how difficult it has been for me to write content to inspire young adults, and encourage them to go after their dreams when their reality is such a nightmare. Below is the post I wrote for her blog:
We learned his name in childhood.
We heard his speech as teens.
As adults, we understand the magnitude of the dream.
The stated dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were many. His most well known dream was that one day, his children would be able to live in a nation where they were judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. That was 53 years ago. His dream, that the creed of all men being created equal would be the foundation on which justice stood, has yet to be realized. The reality of the black experience in America is this: Same Rights, Different Freedoms.
This has been a very tough few days as a writer, as a mentor, as a black American, and as a dreamer. It has been difficult to hold onto my ‘why’, and to write content that teaches and motivates young dreamers, when their reality is a nightmare. I’ve never been anything other than black, so it’s a posture I’m used to, but a weight that never abates. Waking up to new, old news comes with the emotion of fear, the thought of, what if someone I know is next, what if I’m next, and a physical pressure on my chest that makes taking a breath big enough to fill my lungs, feel impossible.
It’s hard to dream at times like these. Actually, it’s harder to be awake at times like these. This week I vacillated between thinking, what’s the use and this is why you must continue. For two days the former thought won me over as my hurt heart, confused mind, and the feeling of helplessness numbed me.
I have returned to feeling, I have brought my anger and fear under submission to rational thought and informed action, and in doing so, a new dream has surfaced.
My work is in service of the ambitious young adults who desire to live up to their potential and to put great work into the world.
Now more than ever, you, the dreamers, need me, and I you; we need each other.
I dream of a peaceful world.
I aspire to be part of the change I want to see in the world.
I long to see young adults grow up in a world where the fear that can arise when encountering someone different is overshadowed by a deep, resounding love for all mankind.
I promise to continue to write and work for you so that my dreams, your dreams, and those of Dr. King’s may be actualized.
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale
What can you do?
Speak up; do not allow fear to silence you.
Speak out; use your platform, whether it’s big enough for just your two feet to stand on or expansive enough to hold up many. Do not shy away just because you think your doesn’t voice matter.
Take action; in the UK, US, and elsewhere, use the power you have as a citizen to advocate.
Engage with people you wouldn’t normally befriend. Do not cower from those with an opposing opinions; education can be obtained in the respectful debate.
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Why ‘Privilege’ Bothers You

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If you’ve never had to raise your voice an octave to sound less abrasive, if you’ve never had to overact your movements when in a store or when leaving a store empty-handed to show to whomever is watching you that you’ve done nothing wrong, you probably can’t relate.

If you feel offended, confused, or annoyed when you hear the words ‘white privilege’, if you’re tired of the conversation and would like to just stop hearing about it, you’re probably the privileged. The people who get the option to not think about race, are the majority. Minorities don’t have the luxury of tuning it out and turning it off, because they live it every day.

I read a story about a lady who sat in a classroom of her multiethnic peers and while discussing race and privilege, she said that she didn’t think about race when she didn’t want to and she didn’t understand why other people don’t just do the same or stop talking about it. Her professor simply said to her, “that’s exactly the point. THAT is privilege.” The lady started crying and for the first time she realized that part of her privilege is that she gets to not think about race or anything involving race when she wanted to and could choose not to when she didn’t.

For the umpteenth time, the privilege discussion, white privilege isn’t about blame. The conversation or topic doesn’t exist to make people who didn’t get to choose their ethnicity or skin color feel bad. It’s simply a matter of making those people aware that two people, both born in America, are entitled to the same unalienable rights, but that they have different freedoms.

Fortunately, we live in a time right now where things are better than they were for our grandparents. We also live in an age where we can begin and continue conversations with people all around the world who are different from us. We can begin to break down barriers by simply reading an informative blog post, and we can be catalysts for change. Being a minority is a full-time job on top of everyday living, that only minorities understand. The privilege conversation shouldn’t bother you, the need for the conversation should bother you. Heighten your awareness to the injustices and listen. It’s not an attack on who you are, it’s an attack on a system and society that functions on an uneven playing field.

Same rights, different freedoms.

Memorial Day

p7042607We tip our hat in acknowledgement of your service.

We stand at attention in recognition of your sacrifice.

We clap our hands in appreciation for defending our freedoms.

We have not the ability to repay you, but you’ve never asked to be.

To every person of service, the families that support them, and the citizens of the country they fight for…

Thank you.

 

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