Celebrating Black History Month 2022 (February 1-March 1) revisits racism, urging a think-back to its origins. How far have we come and how far haven’t we come in 400 years? What does it mean when partisan politics makes voting for all Americans an obstacle course for some sectors who may favor the opposition?
Here’s how it looks to one of our own, a Black women executive at A Case for Women.
Can you speak to the core of it [racism]?
T: For me, racism brings to mind the word addiction. Any addiction can only be healed by first acknowledging the original wounds. Black America’s addiction, in simplest terms, is angry inferiority. The racist’s addiction is possibly angry superiority. We can speculate about the nature of the wounds on either side, but one point is absolute: People are only capable of unkindness to others when they are at war within themselves.
#MitchPlease has gone viral because so many people of color (POC) are outraged. What thoughts would you offer the outraged?
Whites and Blacks are so accustomed to wearing a metaphorical mask each day to cover generations of wounds buried in their DNA. The mask gets very heavy to carry sometimes and it cracks.
Senator McConnell’s mask, for an instant, cracked and the slip-up was right there waiting. He said what he meant, rather than what he intended to mean. He intended to mean, as he later said, that his party chose a brief moment of power over, what was it? … shattering the soul of the Senate.
Also we, Americans, are a reactionary society, but a fair amount of Black people are swallowed by inertia. Some use this despair as a crutch, and possibly their reason for not engaging more fully in the process that governs us. For months, red flags have been waving SOS over endangered voting rights, but too many Black Americans have dismissed the warnings until after the fact.
Do you wish for a bigger platform to effect change?
T: No, I need to advocate; even if I can’t be on the frontline in Washington, I can still be on the frontline in my family and community. I want my children to see what’s happening now, and give them the background I was fortunate to learn firsthand from my parents and elderly grandparents. That is the rock I can throw in the pond to make ripples.
Your own private protest..
T: Definitely. Two kinds of people are involved in any protest: the face of the protest and those behind the curtain. Both are important. I’m behind the curtain. Every day, regardless of how you look on the outside, you’re afforded the opportunity to open your eyes and take a breath. Subsequent choices follow, but there is no difference in the initial opportunity afforded.
People of color who are possibly more aware and empowered with knowledge- have to do better in our own communities, which will push the hand of the powerful who represent us. If enough of us push, lawmakers will eventually feel enormous pressure. Pressure brings forth diamonds. If enough of us say, “This is an injustice, this isn’t fair,” one day those in power will stop regarding us as invisible.
And to Mitch McConnell, you say?
T: The same thing that gives you the privilege of using your voice is what you’re taking away from us.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is a great place to visit in person and virtually. Learn about their resources for educators, students and adults here: https://nmaahc.si.edu