Even without being a professional counselor, my personality wiring is such that I reflect a lot.
Some days the recollection of sweet memories creates an extra bounce in my steps and a wider smile. Other times, no amount of squeezing stress balls, mindful thinking, or inhaled breaths of air, make a difference in combating life’s realities. Sometimes, in those latter moments, I become mired in thoughts that I believed were locked away.
Think of it like this: have you ever had the experience of learning that things are not the way you believed? I don’t mean there’s no Santa or that one day Lucy really will let Charlie Brown kick that football. What I’m talking about is the experience of learning someone you valued betrayed your trust or the person you thought would be your Best Friend Forever was never your friend at all.
I don’t know what teenage males do, but for some teen females, it’s like walking upon a group of friends and hearing them make fun of your clothes or hair. Even if you smiled and willingly made yourself part of the joke for lack of a graceful exit; at the core of your spirit, you understood at that moment those people were not who you believed them to be…your friends. The signs you previously left ignored, you could no longer avoid. No matter what you told yourself in the past, at that moment the truth was evident.
It is in that flashback experience to questionable adolescent loyalty and maturity that I have come to relate the current state of racial affairs in the United States. With the knowledge that more than 70 million fellow citizens embraced a political candidate who just flat out terrorized the BIPOC population, I question the relevance of the question: “where do we go next?” as a single query. It’s like I just walked in on my friends talking about me in the bathroom.
The question of where we, as institutions, go from here, is one that has been the focus of numerous conversations, dialogues, debates, and discussions. The closeness of the presidential election underscores the painfully deep divisions in American society. Certainly, there are more questions when it comes to becoming a participant in an anti-racist society.
New questions have emerged that require individual responses that center on the portion of your personal ideology, privilege, and perspective that is more a barrier to progress than it is a bridge over troubled waters.
The following quote by the late Congressman John Lewis came during an embarrassing point in American history. Anytime we discuss the impeachment of a president however, it remains more directive now than it did at the time:
“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”