Connecting the Past to the Need for Pro ME is Not Anti YOU™!
As a little girl, I struggled to understand the logic for the circumstances making up my reality. Racism wasn’t a detached reality with vile and mean people. Racism, for me, was making attempts to change my very character. At times I tried to ignore the quest for why hatred and being mean was grown people’s instinctive response to me, but rarely could I moved beyond it. In the midst of my grandparents having a million rules to guide my life because my grandmother was the first in our family who was not a slave or sharecropper; my grandfather often told me I arrived in the world an extremely logical person, but he never said it as if it were a bad thing or a bad part of who I was as a person. In my mind, he was accepting the logical part of me, which increased my willingness to use common sense and the reality of honor and respect due each person to help me deal with anything uncomfortable, especially people hating me for no obvious reason. I was raised, and had sense enough to know that you treat people as you expect to be treated, because one person is not responsible for any other person’s shortcomings, limitations, or insecurities—to the degree that I labored with being able to grasp how grown White people missed the very same lessons about how to treat people.
At ten years old, I was thrust into accepting and learning how to maneuver around racism, discrimination, and hatred from people I felt should have known better, and people I had to learn to combine the truths of Christianity for me to be able to deal with. In the midst of common sense saying you have to do something to repair the damage in a relationship if you are the person to have caused someone else harm; the logical person within me struggled with why some people were choosing to be unenlightened or hate me for no reason when they didn’t know me, so I know I hadn’t done anything to them. At just 10 years old, racism was very difficult for me to grasp from grown people I was raised and expected to respect. At 10, my grandmother gave me the option of learning one of the ten commandments and she chose, “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.” In fully grasping love, without separating love into categories of convenience; I questioned whether or not racist people knew that GOD looks at every person the same—in the midst of them calling themselves a Christian. I was afraid to begin separating love into piece of acceptance or separatism, like some White people appeared to feel free to do, because I felt that once I began to separate love, I would grant myself permission to do mean things.
As hard as I tried, I could not get why logic or the simplicity of using common sense wasn’t used by these grown people to help them understand they could choose not to be silly and hate me for no reason. It took a lot of years for me to realize racist people were treating me with the same confusion and contempt they felt for themselves. I had long been aware of the reality of anytime a person does not feel the best about themselves, they will go out of their way to attempt to create the same level of fear or insecurity in another person. At the same time, I wondered when would racism end?
My grandmother was very into living your truths without being guided by the truths of others, but the reality of racism was difficult when I saw White kids playing who didn’t seem to have the same worries I had to have of presentation. White kids seemed to be able to play with their friends, doing almost anything under the guise of being a kid, with no one ready to pounce on or scold them because their actions were perceived to be wrong or just unacceptable. There were many times when I could do the exact same thing as a White kid, and my actions somehow warranted a grown person saying something hurtful to me as a result. In choosing how to react to racism and regardless of the right of difficulty I gave myself because I wanted the option of not having to love past those choosing to treat me with such unearned insolence; my grandparents regularly took turns saying,
“You are blessed to be a blessing. Nothing you have or are given in this world is just for you, so you don’t have the right to treat people in manners you would not like them treating you. Your responsibility is to share your knowledge, money, ability to make a difference in someone’s life for their sake, while making decisions based on common sense, not ignorance, retaliation, or hatred. When you learn to instinctively do the things you are supposed to your life will move forward based strictly on how you really feel about yourself. But the difference and belief in your value of yourself will be shown the strongest in how you treat other people!”
I have to say, that was not the response I wanted to hear at the time, or one I wanted to accept. I understood exactly what my grandmother meant, because I crowned her the rule queen by age seven. But sometimes, I just wanted my grandparents to say something off the cuff that wasn’t deep or take my side (with my limited information), and react like I would; even though I knew in my heart of hearts she could not. There were so many rules for my life growing up in my grandparent’s home to always value myself instead of just reacting to every White person being viciously hateful, that even the simplicity of being a kid had become complicated.
I felt my right to be a kid and just think about 10 year old stuff was taken away from me because of racist people who had no respect for the fact that I had every right to think, behave, and act like a kid given the right to have non-strategic fun. I was not allowed to go outside and just play like other kids in our community, because my grandparents knew that everything about being Black was examined differently. My grandparents feared that if I was allowed the comfort of not feeling like I was in a battle all the time with grown people willing to destroy me because of the color of my skin; I may react in a way justifying someone’s negative opinion of me, which could place me in a path of being harmed in some way. Play had to move from being a free spirited action filled with the innocent impulse of joy due every child, to a strategic session demanding self-reliance, self-promotion, and self-protection to assure I was not providing the ammunition for an ignorant grown person to justify their desire to treat me differently or want to hurt me.
As we jump forward more than 40 years, the realities of racism are still plaguing our children in detrimental ways. Our children are told they are as great as any other child, but their reality shows equality in education has been transposed to one considered equitable. Our children are publicly reprimanded if they excel or regress in academia, by grown people who act as if our children are responsible for their shortcomings, misgivings, or the fact that they know they are strong people. In the midst of the subpar schools with a stronger test taking than education infused focus, and Black children’s still relevant need to work harder than to be considered as good as; one of the current events found by a student hurt her heart because yet another Black child was being publicly berated for making the choice to excel in academia. Madame Noire’s reporter Charing Ball asked the question: Why Does A Washington Post Reporter Not Want Us to Care About These Black Boys Getting Into Ivy League Schools?
All of Black America was proud and praising the efforts of Kwasi Enin and Avery Coffey, both 17 years old, for their extraordinary acceptances into several top-tier Ivy League schools; while the education reporter for the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, showed her contempt in an article titled: “But Did He Apply to Stanford?” Strauss offers Enin congrats on his eight Ivy League acceptances, but asks, “Now can we stop talking about him?”
Her question incited anger and confusion for some Love In Abundance students, who asked, “What is the real purpose in continuing to do well in our education if we are going to be talked about if we do good or talked about if we do bad? Because if someone talks about us for doing bad, we know how to handle that; but why do White people hate us so much when we don’t have nothing to do with them?”
It took a while to calm some of our students down, and get them to refocus on acting in their best interest, because many felt defenseless to address an education reporter denouncing excellent educational efforts, just because the excellence was in Black boys she must have preferred to report about them going to jail or prison.
It is this very level of ignorance that prompted the initiation of the Pro ME is Not Anti YOU™! book, compendium, workshop and tour, and movement inciting Instinctive Kindness, Individual Empowerment, and Inherent Equality. Pro ME is Not Anti YOU™! will help every student currently feeling less significant in a country called their own, feel inherent equality just in case America never gains the desire to create avenues of systematic equality for everyone. We have 18 days left to secure several more Student Ambassadors. We need everyone who will to refer students interested in using the power of their voice to show the world who they truly are, without taking any feelings of advancement or success away from any other student. Email queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s be the change in the world our children need to see now.