A friend recently sent me an extensive article addressing race, written by a well-known African American conservative, when it pertains to matters of race. Statistics were cited, perspective shared and a call issued to move beyond victimization, don't believe the hype and rather embrace hard work, resilience and the abundance of oppprtunities that exist to excel and thrive in American society.
I understand where the author is coming from and know that there must be initiative, persistence and determination for anyone to make strides in life. I understand that wallowing in one's sorrow will not enable individuals to gain one inch of ground towards achieving the goals for which they are aiming or enpower them to achieve the greatest gains within the grasp of their abilities. Nevertheless, at the same time, personal experience has taught me that it is naive and dismissive to ignore the challenges of a racialized society that persist to this day.
22 years ago, especially coming from the perspective of an Army Brat in a military community that promoted and insisted on breaking down racial barriers, I might have penned an essay similar to the one to which I've alluded, in spite of some very heavy racial experiences that occasionally found their way into my generally positive existence. I chose to live in a sort of fairyland, that refused to fully acknowledge that any significant vestiges of racial challenge remained for black people in the United States. I assumed wishfully that if one simply clicked the heels of ones red shoes like Dorothy in Oz, ignored the problems, pressed forward and remained positive, one would probably eventually triumph, save some unfortunate tragedy.
Since that idyllic clueless time, 29 years of racial reality have not dampened my fire to overcome any challenges - racial or other - that may confront me. Nevertheless, the realities I have experienced, witnessed and ministered to have allowed me to better understand the complexity of the issue of race and have moved me beyond the fantasy of wishful thinking or the stubborn dogma of citing debatable statistics as "argument settling proof" of a position on race one way or the other. The years of struggle I have experienced have also knocked some sense into me and helped me to face reality - even painful, frustrating and persistent reality - with faith, courage, determination and hope.
I have come to understand that when dealing with race in the USA, various components of truth exist simultaneously and must be acknowledged, understood and navigated if one is to survive the racialized landscape of America as an African American. Some practical principles and ideals I have chosen to apply in my daily life as I navigate the complex racialized landscape of America are the following:
1. One must prepare oneself to the maximum extent possible intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically to achieve the greatest gains possible in one's chosen area of endeavor. Proper prior planning and preparation prevents preventable pitifully poor performance. Do your best at all times in all endeavors of importance!
2. One must assume there will be challenges in general to overcome and perhaps setbacks to rise above that are simply part of the general human experience. One must be prepared to get up, dust off and press on when the difficulties come - and they will! Expect the worst and overcome it with your best!
3. One must always be prepared for being blindsided by racial malfeasance and understand that such malfeasance may cause more havoc than typical human problems for the majority culture. If such a problem arises, one must fight for righteousness with all one's might. One must also understand that such happenings are often systematic and won't stop with one individual's experience without active opposition and sacrificial efforts to establish a righteous environment. The "N-word" and its associates can present themselves at ANY time! Have a plan in place to face the ugly and be prepared for an extended struggle involving lots of inconvenience, painful listening and sharing if your desire is a positive and impacting outcome!
4. One must speak the truth in love at every opportunity, seeking to promote understanding and never giving up on one's attempts to making a difference and improving understanding between people. Be honest yet diplomatic. Be gentle yet tenacious. Be unrelenting and unyielding in standing for what is right, yet with humilty and civility. If one is pushed to be combative, be combative with skill, dignity and an ultimate aim to wound to heal!
5. One must never give up hope, or allow one's joy to be destroyed or allow the harshest of realities to allow one to become cynical. As an observant human being it is clear that very bumpy times are ahead, yet I have faith that God wins in the end. In the meantime, the Good Fight must be fought, and the difficult duty must be done until our time has come either through death or the culmination of all things. Understand that dealing with race in America is a lifelong discipline. Make friends. Seek to grow. Don't quit!
This is my heart on the matter.
I hope it adds to build just a little more hope and understanding.
I remain committed and approachable and would love to hear from you!
Blessings to you all my friends!