Have you ever felt like just staying in bed, not because you were physically exhausted and wanted just a few more minutes under your cozy sheets but because you simply didn’t feel like engaging in the mental and emotional acrobatics that seem to dominate the American landscape?
Sometimes it’s all I can do to get up in the morning, put on my game face, speak a few words of positive encouragement, chug down my coffee and go out into a world where people who look like me must routinely stand tall against melanin-deficient folks who would prefer living in a world in which I didn’t exist at all.
When you get right down to it, while the USA talks a very good talk, those who push the buttons, maintain the doorways, manipulate the system and hold the final vote, don’t seem to have the best interests of “we the people” in mind. At least not as much as they should. I guess that’s why I sometimes don’t really want to get up and go out. I know what I will have to face. I know I may have no other option but to turn the other cheek. I know that as much as we’d like to believe that the “isms” of the world no longer have sway over us, that in a lot of ways they still do.
That’s why we must be prepared to ignore ignorance, overlook the obtuse, laugh at the lunatics and the ludicrous and keep our eyes on the prize. Still, looking into the eyes of “white privilege” can be a rather daunting encounter. It can drain you of all of your energy. It has the ability to wear you out and wear you down.
Racism, or more correctly, racists, can’t really believe the things they say, can they? They can’t really believe that the actions they take which demean, humiliate and in some cases even lead to serious injury or death are justifiable, can they? Is it right to hate someone just because they’re black or brown? Because they’re named Raheem instead of Robert? Because they groove to hip-hop and not to country and western?
The history of the world shows us that mighty empires rarely fall because of being attacked and then destroyed from the outside. Those mighty countries who were once huge, powerful, arrogant and determined to gobble up everything in their sights, have fallen because the foundation on which they stood was not firm. Try as they may, they reached a point when “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
America has become the Roman Empire of the new millennium and like Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, we seem hellbent on ignoring the overwhelming good that could be accomplished because those in power would rather let the ship sink than to embrace the gifts that surround them — gifts that can only be realized when our country is willing to embrace real diversity.
Perhaps I’m being a bit too naïve to actually maintain hope. Perhaps. But you can believe this: I am going to get out of bed, I am going to take my dreams with me out into the world. And, with God’s help, I’m going to make it back home in one piece and in peace.