For the first time in 50 years, I am afraid of being a black person in America! After Dr. King was murdered, I worried about being killed because someone who had never met me felt that I did not belong in the country that I love. I remember quite vividly when a black male and white female were shot dead less than a mile from where I lived in the 1970s, as they walked together, minding their own business.
Then, the Civil Rights Act passed and it included the Voting Rights Act, which meant that blacks were free to vote without poll taxes or tests or other discriminatory practices orchestrated to keep us from participating in the electoral process. I voted for the first time in the 1972 presidential election, voting for George McGovern, who lost to the incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon. Even though my candidate did not win, it felt good to exercise my civil right to vote.
I cannot begin to express in words the joy I felt when the first black President, Barack Obama, was elected in 2008! I did not think that I would live long enough to witness such a happening in my life time, so I celebrated with much glee and hope for this American enterprise. I believed that Americans were ready to deterge the country of the hate and racism that divided us. I was naive.
Today, the Voting Rights Act is practically dead, with widespread instances of voter suppression being reported, mostly of black and Native American voters who tend to vote Democratic. I am devastated to see the clock turn backwards.
With daily onslaughts of whites calling the police on black people for nonsense, I worry about offending someone while I am out in public and having the police called on me. I fear that in my nervousness in speaking to police officers that I may do or say something that gets misinterpreted and I will end up losing my life.
To bolster my confidence in this country, I offer this soliloquy to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are growing up black in America. I cannot remember where I read this. I added some of it myself.
The world can be vicious, but…..don’t deny the world your talents, gifts, and laughter. The world can be scary, but….it can also be warm, understanding, giving, compassionate and joyful. The world can be cold, but it can also be amazing people doing amazing things to help each other. The world can be mean, but it can also be a community helping each other overcome the viciousness, callousness, and brutality of their lives.
Never forget that you are made in the image of God and that God loves you and has wonderful plans to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). The Constitution gives people of every race and ethnicity the same rights, and we have to fight through peaceful and nonviolent means to ensure that no one takes those rights away through trickery and deceit.
Yes, I worry more today for my grandsons and great-grandsons than I thought that I would have to. My husband nicknamed me “Rose,” for he says that I wear rose-colored glasses, seeing the best in everyone. This election has opened my eyes, and I am disappointed and very much afraid.
But, I am also an optimist. For me, the glass is never half-full or half-empty to me. Instead, I see it as just what we need to survive, and that if we are patient, the glass will one day overflow with good things, cleansing away the bad things.
Ephesians 2:14 states, “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” As a woman of God, I am hopeful that with the diversity of women and men elected to Congress on November 6 that my fears may turn out to be unwarranted.