My soul is tired and my eyes run like a river. Violence and hatred uncontrollably spin our world. Their sheer force throws our society so far off course that we will never again be centered enough to love, live and let live. I ache deeply, like a hopeless romantic watching a sad movie.
But this isn’t a movie. It’s living color, on a stage that has become black and white. As a youngster growing up in Vallejo, Calif., my Mama taught me to treat everyone the same. She said love conquered all. She often reminded me that good and bad came in all shapes, sizes and colors.
As an adult I’ve tried living my life as a beacon of racial peace and harmony. However, I’m not a wealthy star athlete, famous rapper or an actor. Therefore, no one cares what I think. I understand this. Still, I will pass on a piece of knowledge. Racism is a system of power. It is so well placed in our society that we are always fighting against only one strand of it at any given time. Yet, there is one strand that is vital to racism’s existence.
When people aren’t educated, they can be subjected to any treatment racism decides to offer. When I say decides, I say it because racism is never an accident. It is done on purpose and must be undone on purpose. Those people who sit on the fence and talk about how horrible racist acts are must understand that it takes more than sad feelings. It takes direct actions. Apathy and the killing of minds will kill far more people than guns.
Having said this, it is still disheartening. I wish my words mattered. I often wonder, ‘Where are our heroes?’ I’m not talking about another Dr. Martin Luther King, I’m talking about the people who made it possible for Dr. King to do his work. Use your skills to help people who are trying to make our society a better place. As for me, I go to work, helping low-income students and students of all colors get into college. I don’t get paid a lot of money, but I have always felt that I was put on this planet to enrich, not get rich. Maybe one of them will be the next Dr. King, Mother Teresa or Gandhi.
I must admit, as I peer out into our society, it confuses me, much like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. If not for the trail of bodies, it has become difficult to separate what’s real and what isn’t. Having to work so hard to figure it out oftentimes makes me feel like giving up. But the memory of those who fought so hard and died so senselessly — in hopes of creating a day when the land of milk and honey would flow to each man or woman based on the mere fact they are human — prevents me.
So, my last piece of knowledge to you is please do not try to make sense of this society’s hatred. Rather, in your own personal society, make definite plans to curtail hatred and racism. And, just maybe, before the stage dims, we might get to feel what being human is truly about.
Keith L. Anderson, Ph.D., is founder of Anderson-Diversity Communication Training. He works with employers, employees and educators. He educates people about communication and how to move from non-racism to an anti-racism mentality. He also motivates students to excel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or anderson-diversity.com.