Everyday some White woman will say the most ridiculous things to me without even thinking. “Oh my God, I love your hair.. I wish I could do that to mine.” or ” I just love your spicy attitude, I wish I had more guts to be outspoken.” But, If you ask these same people their thoughts on whats happening in Ferguson, MO right now, there will be a resounding “Silence!” And why is that? Is it because of the toxic racial divide we live in? or maybe because it’s a conversation that when asked, many don’t want to be forced to share their true feelings? Well, if you don’t believe me, just do a conversation search on the word Ferguson, MO on Facebook or Michael Brown Jr. I guarantee all the posts you pull up will be from people of color. Does that mean that your White friends don’t care, or does it mean they just don’t want to be pulled into a heated conversation that could reveal how they really feel? Honestly, I don’t know! But one thing is clear, like our sisters from the Women’s rights movement and black suffrage movement, they realized that they were fighting for a movement (Women’s rights) that ultimately would not include them. See, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer & Rosa Parks knew that while they were marching beside their White sisters for the right to vote Jim Crow laws would not allow them that very same right. But they walked and fought on anyway. That’s the legacy that Black women come from.
I’ve been an Entrepreneur for almost 14 years now and sometimes I have taken the very same route that my White friends have taken. I’ve taken the road of saying not much of anything…well at least in public or on social media. Like most people on Facebook I would comment or like things about fashion or something funny, but when it came to controversial issues…Silence But, as I stared at the above photo of a Black Woman concerned about her community, I had to ask myself ” Why have I taken a back seat to discussing human rights issues and oppression when it concerns Blacks. It could be that I had a fear of pissing off some of my clients or white friends. Either way, I can’t escape what is happening in our society as we speak, and despite the possible risk of personal loss, I have a personal and moral obligation to speak up and do something about the atrocities happening in our back yard. Even if my speaking up is engaging my fellow brothers and sisters in conversation that can lead to racial understanding and healing, I’ve done something. Even if my speaking up leads to marching in solidarity, I’ve done something. Whatever that something is, I believe all Americans with a conscious and heart has a moral, personal and ethical obligation for speak up for what is simply right.
I want my daughter to grow up independent, free thinking and a lover of all people. She can’t possibly have that chance in a society that already places limitations on her because she’s female and black. It is unfortunate that with our countries long history of Black suffrage and civil rights that we still have not come to a place in our society where we can look at one another with compassion in our hearts and not with discord because of the color of their skin. It is a shame that I cannot have a conversation with my white friends because they fear how I might respond or they fear what they really might say. Either way, we cannot begin to heal as a country until we have these conversations and wake up and really see what is happening in front of us. So I encourage each of you. Don’t be afraid of expressing your opinions, thoughts or frustrations with each other. Even if that conversation is one that will be uncomfortable. Like my Grandmother use to tell me, “It’s better to know where you stand with a person up front than to not know at all and they stab you in the back.”
Speak up and Make a difference… and not just about Ferguson but all injustices!