Bigotry Cannot Continue Unchecked In The U.S.
On November 22, 1963 I was exactly 4 1/2 years old. My recollection was that the bully on the block Jackie Roberts, hit me over the head with his metal cap gun and gave me my first exposure to what a bully or bigotry was. I remember coming home to my mother in tears and she was none too happy about that. If memory serves, I think she got Jackie and put him up on top of the refrigerator and lectured him, but this could all just be distorted a distant memory.
What I do remember clearly from that day was that all the adults were crying. The President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. Seeing all the adults crying was a first for me.
As I grew older and saw all of the bigotry and racial riots of the 60s explode, followed by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, I realized that the world was not the fairytale we were being taught in children’s books. It was truly a rude awakening.
I don’t recall when I became aware that we were racing to go to the moon but I do recall watching all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions with a gleam in my eye and a passion in my heart for something that was such a collective achievement for humanity. And yet, here was humanity trying to coexist in my own country and it was met with such ignorance, hatred, arrogance and violence.
How strange it felt this weekend seeing the space program come back to life with the remarkable achievement of SpaceX while simultaneously watching riots breaking out all over the country. It doesn’t make sense. There are so many people who are carrying unfounded racial bigotry and passing it from generation to generation.
When I was 21, I was held up in my own home by two gunmen, one black, one white, both wearing women’s stockings over their face, but it was the black man who held my face down on the water bed, put the gun to the back of my head and told me that he was going to blow my head off if I didn’t give him the cocaine. (There was no cocaine in my house they had the wrong address). I suffered post traumatic stress for more than a year after that event. My dreams became my torture chamber and I was terrified to sleep because the same recurring nightmare was beyond debilitating.
By any bigot’s measure, I would have every right to feel an antagonistic perspective towards black people. But the reality is I don’t feel that at all. The reality is that I’ve had lots of education, and I understand how they were captured in Africa and traded as slaves. Knowing that the Jews had once been slaves of pharaoh and built the pyramids, I understood that they were a race of people who were just descendants of the ones who have gone through that horror show. Same as I.
The world needs solutions, it needs understanding, it needs compassion, it needs empathy and it needs every single one of us to have the moral conviction to stand up and be counted in the face of bigotry and hatred.
When I hear the President of the United States say that there are good people on both sides, I could try and rationalize that there must be good people on both sides, but independent of that small assertion, the fact that he is not willing to instantly rebuke any form of unfounded hatred, makes him a bigot in my mind. Seeing him use flash bangs and teargas to move a crowd so that he can pose with a Bible that he has never read in front of a church that he has no affiliation for in order to have a photo opportunity repulses me on all moral levels.
The United States is the only country that has been built from people all over the world coming and participating in our collective experiment of democracy and freedom. If we are not willing to stand up and be counted in the face of seeing these atrocities continue, then we are becoming part of the problem. I am the first one to tell you that there are plenty of bad people, both black and white and every other nationality out there. I have been traumatized by a couple of them, but if you do not cleanse your soul and turn towards the light and become part of the solution, then you are just remaining part of the complacency that creates the bigotry problem and perpetuates it. We need more compassion and empathy in this world.
Hoping your Wednesday is full of great joy and hoping that all of these criminals who are needlessly rioting and looting innocent businesses are arrested and punished to the full extent of the law and that the larger groups who are stirring up the controversy get exposed for their criminal behaviors as well. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “can’t we all just get along?“❤️
QUESTION FOR TODAY: What would you propose as a viable solution to bigotry?
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Our scientists grapple with the difficulties of placing a man on the moon. But the immediately troubling concern of our society is whether men of different races can sit together at a lunch counter. – Robert Kennedy