“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Unless you have been off on a deserted island for the last few weeks, you are well aware that there have been countless hours and pages filled with news stories which revolve around race in some fashion or another, ranging from the Paula Deen case, to the “Dark Girls” documentary on OWN, to the Supreme Court decision regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the fresh acquittal verdict of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder trial.
Though I have opinions about each one of these news stories (and a few others that have floated across my computer and television screen), I have kept most of my thoughts private, save for the occasional conversations with friends and family members or a few “Likes” on the Facebook statuses of others. However, as of approximately 6:00AM this morning, I determined that I can be SILENT no more!
You see, it was at approximately that time that I discovered what the outcome in the Zimmerman case was (I went to sleep early last night) and felt moved, not to tears (though I am saddened by the results), but to action. Because I have been blessed to build a network of women (and men and people of several races/cultures) through Brown Girl Collective, I knew that I needed to speak to my community of sisters and brothers and not only share what I was thinking and feeling, but provide them with an avenue to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe, understanding and respectful environment.
As it is with any group of people with their own thoughts and opinions, there were a few points of disagreement, yet no one walked away from the conversation without their self-respect and dignity in tact (at least I hope not).
The reason why I cannot be SILENT about the issues that impact my community rests in the fact that there can be no change if we do not engage in intelligent dialogue before we begin organizing to fight against those things that seek to diminish, degrade and ultimately destroy us.
- We HAVE TO talk about why the N word is unacceptable, even in our own community.
- We HAVE TO talk about the degradation of our women in our music and on reality television and why we are so willing to support it.
- We HAVE TO talk about our issues with skin tone and hair texture and how they impact how we feel about ourselves and each other.
- We HAVE TO talk about the breakdown of the Black family structure.
- We HAVE TO talk about the failing school systems that do not adequately prepare our children for the future, especially considering the global nature of our economy.
- We HAVE TO talk about the importance of maintaining our voting rights, since the people that we vote for have a direct impact on the laws that hit the books.
- And last but definitely not least, we HAVE TO talk about teaching our children the value of their own lives and the lives of others, starting within our own homes and neighborhoods.
“There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other fellow to make the first move – and he, in turn, waits for you.” — Marian Anderson