COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT- SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION
The Video linked below is from an ABC interview done with Lawrence Otis Graham
Some people are judging Mr. Graham harshly. Try walking a mile in his shoe. This video could be titled: Being Black, Educated and Imprisoned in America, or Dress-to-Live.
How many of us -- regardless of color, education or socioeconomic status-- are taking what is happening in America in 2015 as seriously as we should?
Are we fully aware of how much trouble we are in as a country?
Of course, we are too occupied with the business of living and coping to pay attention to that which does not directly affect us. That's perfectly understandable. Who has the time?
From my perspective, this video shows how psychologically oppressive it is to be black in America. You can graduate from Princeton and Harvard and still perceive yourself to be (or be made to feel like) a second class citizen. Therefore, you and your family are constrained to wear the uniform as dictated by racist perceptions. There are many who feel there is no choice but to acquiesce; to fall in line and become lambs rather than to challenge our society to be a better place for ALL of us. It is impossible for any white person (especially those with education) to understand what's like to be Mr. Graham. It's difficult for many of us who are black to understand. Imagine how much potential in lost daily in America when people with a great deal to contribute have to be so constrained. This is why we ALL NEED TO WORK TO MAKE AMERICA A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL OF US. that is if we believe.
As the mother of a black son, I understand Mr. Graham's concerns. As a citizen, I prefer to challenge and work for change. Unless you know what's like to be followed in the store; to be questioned with suspicion by people who can barely read and write; to be treated with indignity by moronic bigots, and to be often-- if not always-- treated as if you are less than a full and complete, dignified, human being, you cannot really know why Mr. Graham or anyone black would resort to such cowering. It just might be the path of least resistance; it might be that we are so brainwashed it seems like our only option; or, it just might be the safest option. It's each person's to choose.
Yes, it's painful to see; it is also tiring to be always on guard; always fighting for your rightful place; always having to prove your innocence when you have done nothing wrong. It's debilitating to expend half your energy justifying everything you say and do so as not to be punished by those who are judging you by a standard that has nothing to do with who you are, and by codes you cannot understand. Whichever method we --as black people-- choose to live by we will most likely end up being tired most of the time. How then can we ever give of our best, or ever be at our best? Thankfully, many of us are quite resilient; this resilience might also account for the fact that when we get ill we tend to have more aggressive forms of whatever is ailing us. Our bodies are under constant assault.
While we steel ourselves to cope with the challenges of living in this often hostile environment, when we get ill and the steel has been worn, our physical bodies give way. This is why we need to find --and hold dear-- a few loving, trustworthy, honest and supportive people who will always tell us the truth in loving and caring ways, and who will love us even when we are not at our best. May we all be able to find and have such people in our lives. Keep the faith brothers and sisters.
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