I grew up in what I considered a fairly mixed neighborhood. Families from multiple religions, races, and backgrounds lived there and attended the public schools I went to. When I went to Catholic school as a very young child that was a different story, but thankfully my mom had the good sense to transfer me to public school in sixth grade. Once in public school, the world became diverse and interesting.
That’s how I look at life. Diverse and interesting. Our differences are what make the world interesting. Who wants to eat chicken and rice every night? You want variety on your palate, yes? Embrace the variety of people around you, and I bet your world will become much richer.
When I was young, my mom bought me a book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement because she was afraid that I wasn’t being taught enough about the movement in the aforementioned Catholic school. I’m thankful she did. That small act of love shaped me and helped me understand the importance of education – continuing education – about world issues around me and history that came before me.
When my husband and I got married we honeymooned in Washington, D.C. The first stop we made was to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was my husband’s pick and we had to reserve a time to visit months in advance. All the Smithsonian museums are free to visit, but this one is so popular they require a reservation.
It was the best way to begin our life together. We are a mixed-race couple, and starting our marriage with a visit to that specific museum was special. Neither of us had delved so deeply into African-American history, and it was emotional, anger-inducing, and raw. But it also brought us closer. For us specifically, learning about history together was a special experience that we’ve continued throughout our marriage. It’s those tough conversations and experiences that draw us closer. And I’m thankful it has become an important part of our marriage, to learn about the world around us.
So now, I’m imploring you, learn more about the world around you. Think you know everything? You don’t. You’d be surprised at what you don’t know. I am all the time.
Here are resources if you’re looking to get more educated about what’s going on in the world today:
Christian Cooper’s sister, Melody Cooper, posted a beautifully written piece about why she posted the Amy Cooper video on Twitter and her experiences. It’s a must-read for anyone. Here’s an excerpt:
“If you’re an ally, what can you do? Stand with us. Bear witness. Continue the discussion and support legal action. Refuse to accept racism in your midst, even in small ways — call out a cruel joke or rude behavior. Be brave and challenge it all. You can transform your own world through how you teach your children, and how you speak to your neighbors and co-workers. It is up to you, not to a leader nor any single protest or petition. Your everyday commitment is what will start to bring the change you want to see. Start small, step forward and let your action join with others’ to become a rising tide that cannot be stopped.”Melody Cooper, from a piece in the New York Times
Here’s a link to the full piece:
Please, learn what happened to Breonna Taylor. Her story matters, and you should be outraged at this too: https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html
And with our current situation, It’s not just the killings – often times others involved in the situation are harassed for taking video and their lives are forever changed. Read the below story about the man who filmed Eric Garner’s death. There’s also a fairly comprehensive overview of our country’s recent history with police officers killing unarmed black men as you get into the story, so please if you read it, read it in its entirety.
Don’t formulate opinions, educate. Want to understand riots? Time Magazine ran an article from Zocalo Public Square in 2015 that featured a roundup of people who have studied riots throughout history, from the Boston Tea Party on up. The piece discusses the effectiveness of riots throughout history and gives opinions and facts from what has happened throughout time. Here’s an excerpt:
“Riots are not great solutions, but riots are usually caused by real injustices. Thousands of people do not take to the streets for no good reason. That was true during the American Revolution, and it is true today. Riots are often the desperate response of people who feel they have no other recourse. We can reduce rioting by providing better access to justice for everyone.”
“It’s presumptuous to assume those who have not experienced 400 years of anti-black violence have a right to moralize on the black community’s expressions of grief and rage.”
You should read the entire article, available here: https://time.com/3951282/riot-violence-use-american-history/
Consider subscribing to a legitimate news source – the New York Times, Washington Post, LA times or your local paper – to keep current on events. Share those stories with your networks and stay informed.
For comprehensive, online resources about African-American history, the National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/