I was determined not to tackle this subject, but hope is needed today. I still believe in the American democracy. I believe that the idea that the election was stolen rests on the fact that in urban areas blacks and other people of color voted in record numbers and they voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, especially here in Georgia. Already the GOP in Georgia has launched a campaign to limit voting by absentee ballots, because so many blacks used them in this presidential election! It’s crazy!
Yet, I have lived long enough to see changes in race and gender relations that my parents and grandparents couldn’t have dreamed of occurring, and it’s in knowing what is possible that I see hope! A Black and Asian Indian woman, whose parents were immigrants who didn’t let race hinder their love, has been voted as Vice-President of the United States! That’s progress that gives us hope.
In 1963, I was in the seventh grade, and I remember being told that black students would attend a new school in the fall, one closer to my house. As a lover of learning, I was excited at the thought of the smell and look of a new, gleaming atmosphere for learning. I was deeply disappointed when I learned that the black kids had been given white kids’ old school, and that the white students actually received a newly built school.
Yet, in 1973, the schools in my hometown were integrated. Today, for the most part, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren attend integrated schools, and they can’t imagine that there was a time when blacks and whites couldn’t attend the same schools. They see the very notion as silly!
Also, I have witnessed more opportunities for women in the workplace. My first well-paying job in 1974 derived from Affirmative Action legislation that allowed blacks and women of all races the chances to be employed in what were considered jobs for white males only.
These changes were hard for everyone, as they meant an alteration of cultural norms that people were comfortable propagating., but we did it together, as a nation! Yet, it is obvious from the Capital riots last week that the changes that I thought were acceptable to most people, and that many people saw as right, angered significant groups of people. I truly need to understand the anger that threatens to undo so much progress in race relations and gender relations.
So, I started buying books, because education has paved the way for hope in the past. One book is titled, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo. Another book is “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, and the last book is Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson.
I believe that it is in reading to comprehend the “other side of the story” that hope lives on in this American democracy. I need to understand why the Confederate flag is still a source of pride and pain, simultaneously. If we can stop and discuss and understand each other’s stories, then we can heal the land and restore hope in “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” That is my hope and it’s my prayer!