Yesterday I was sitting in my History class exhausted and wondering yet again whose brilliant idea it was for me to go to college! And, yet again, I accepted that there was no one to blame for this particular idea, but myself. So, like everyone else who likes it better to shirk responsibility, I started to think of something else; ha-ha. I decided to tune in to what my professor was going on about; and, thank God I did! Okay, so he was speaking about establishing ‘peace time’ after some war or the other and how believe it or not, that was difficult to do; because as we all know, there will always be those opposed to ‘peace’. Anywho, he put a picture on the screen that catapulted me into today’s post! It was a picture of thousands of men protesting and striking against the abhorrent conditions they were being subjected to, post war. Wages were minimal, jobs were scarce and conditions were poor. Faces as far as you could see – of all colors. That sight evoked the very recent depictions of the rallies, marches, sit and lie-ins that erupted to protest the deaths of the black men killed by police officers. There were so many poignant images of our nation united in anger and fear; citizens showing their support by wearing, re-posting and shouting, #blacklivesmatter. Faces as far as you could see – of all colors.
I was joking about not paying attention during my class; I am too much of the nerd (thanks, daughter) for that to ever be true. Additionally, as much as it challenges me (or because it does), I am glued to my professor’s mouth during his lectures, doing my best to absorb, understand and process what has happened – what has contributed to making the world, this country and by association, everyone who lives in it the people we are. So I listen to the facts as well as the rhetoric and I look at the images. We trace back to slavery, so-called freedom, presidencies, constitutions, amendments to same, treaties, proclamations, wars, post-wars… and through it all, I look at the faces – of all colors.
As I sit through the barrage of information and images, I begin to make the links and connections that help to explain (not always excuse) some of what has and continues to transpire. Going back has allowed me the insight to go forward. But, what continues to stay with me are the images. I have seen some gruesome images; atrocities that should not have been allowed to happen! But, I have seen some that have made me tilt my head to the side and feel that little impish smile that we sometimes get when we see something that either we weren’t meant to or that brings us a bit of hope.
I have begun to realize that we are a nation, in fact a world that needs an ‘enemy’. And, if one is not forthcoming, we manufacture one. Let’s address this. There is absolutely nothing new about wars, protests, revolutions and disputes; as long as there are people, there will be discord. Agreed? But what I am realizing, what is giving me that little smile is the fact that we are so programmed to hate and to fight, that it matters not whether the supposed enemy is each other or ‘them’. I watch images and learn realities of the atrocities visited upon those of my skin color (that continue to this day) and, I also see the images and have lived with my own eyes those of my skin color standing next to those of lighter skin, in solidarity and protest against the ‘them’. Hmmmmmmm….
Like I told my professor (and class) yesterday, I admit that my thinking may be incredibly simplistic – but, if we are able to put aside our anger and disdain toward each other to fight against the “other” enemy when necessary, if we are able to draw upon the strength of our supposed-enemies when we need it, if we are able to add our voices in unity and out-cry against some other injustice, when literally and figuratively linking arms with other skin colors is empowering, when my lighter-skinned friends can post, write about, wear, march, sit and lie-in to tell those ‘others’ that #mylifematters – then why the fuck can’t we keep these moments and emotions in our realities when that particular instance is over and we are no longer fighting that “other” enemy?!? Why can’t we realize and let it truly resonate with us that (and here is my simplistic thought) if we can come together to fight against, all that that proves is that we can come together?
Listen, I realize that we have become, a lot of us, a nation of people that are just dedicated to sound-bites and mostly governed by our public and social personas. I realize that so often we simply do what can look good in the moment; not thinking past the cameras and posts. I (sadly) get that. So I guess that that is why for me when I look at the images and depictions, I shake my head in wonder at our stupidity. I marvel at the fact that is so very blatant if we choose to take the time to look behind the hash tags, status updates and IG images – we can get along! We are able, when it suits us, to set aside the anger and the differences that so many are not even sure where they originated! We can look past the shading differences in our skin tones! When push comes to shove, our economic standings matter not! Look. That is all I am asking, please look. Make the emotions when we come out to fight the “other” enemy the new reality. Allow those emotions that allow for solidarity and unity to replace those that encouraged and invited discord, strife, anger and hate. Keep them close. Take down the posters of Beyonce, One Direction, Lenny, Brad and Angelina and replace them with the images of those past and quite recent moments in time that depict us standing together in unity. Watch it every day and let it remind you that not only is it possible, but that we can and DO do it! Don’t buy into the rhetoric – that enemy just wants to keep us blind…