A View From Inside-V
Now I address fear and anger for the future. Each day something more happens, each day the media releases information that incites and upsets me. Married to a black man, mother to two black sons and expecting a black grandson. I cannot forget what is done to men in our race just because of their skin color. I watch people try to explain away the injustices, trying to make these terrible things our fault exclusively. Please understand and do not get me wrong, for everyone has to be held accountable for their deeds. None of us is exempt in this sense.
However, let us examine the phenomenon of the victim victimizes, the punished punishes, the abused is now and abuser. What do they all have in common?It is simple really, you survive something horrible and bad, but you are not treated and healed therefore you believe the treatment you were given is the treatment you must give. You view these things as normal, the way it should be and you act accordingly.
I came across a piece about the family of actor Don Cheadle. His family genealogy was the subject matter and it was uncovered his ancestors we enslaved by Native Americans. It seemed to come as somewhat a surprise to him and others that watched the piece also were enlightened. While I knew of the enslavement of our ancestors, I also knew there were men who rose to the esteemed position of “chief” in some tribes as well. Mr. Cheadle remarked about the status of his kin as they were at one point people without a country. Being slaves of the Native American tribes put them under the jurisdiction of those same tribes and once the USA determined and declared slavery was illegal, those Native Americans were NOT under the rule of the USA. In many cases a separate negotiation had to be conducted for the slaves to be freed and then only to be placed in a status as outcast. They were not American citizens and they were not recognized as members of the tribes either.
I initially shook my head in disgust and disbelief. I asked how could a people who were treated so horribly by the white European settlers turn around and adopt the very same hideous practices. However, Native Americans often took slaves from wars among the warring tribes. “To the victor goes the spoils…” I do not want to trivialize this, but to point out how these negative practices are cyclic.
The behavior has to be modified and changed. Bridges and positive interactions will breed positive interactions. Stop believing every black man is a man with the strength of 20 angry men on crack with an I.Q of 7 because he was stopped by the police, justifying “shoot first ask questions later” mentality. Understand a mere fashion trend is not a disguise for a hardened criminal. We charge our law enforcement officers with many tasks but one task they must take on, along with a great portion of our society, is to not merely look beyond an individuals skin color; no they must go one step further and they must do it rapidly, they must do what John Grisham asked of his audience in A Time To Kill, “Imagine them white”. Can you accept the challenge?