"Racial injustice had sort of been born with the United States." I heard this quote while watching a video about "Bloody Sunday" and the March to Montgomery in preparation for a final exam this evening. It struck a cord within my heart and I felt the need to blog about it.
I haven't posted anything on my blog for a while because of various reasons, but one reason definitely being that I've been focusing on school work. To begin again with a post like this is odd, but I cannot sit quietly much longer in light of recent events. This past semester I've been taking the course Studies in Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity. Throughout this course we have touched on many topics and issues that people are faced with every day.
I am of Irish-American descent born in a small town in Southwestern Virginia to a loving, Christian family. I was raised that we are all children of God, and that there was no preferred race. I would even say that I didn't understand the differences in race. Though I learned about the "old days" and slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, for a while as a child I didn't understand the reasoning behind it all. As I grew up, I was "exposed" to many races and had many friends from various ethnic backgrounds. (Or, I had as many as possible considering I was from a small town). Going into my teen years, my family moved to an even smaller town with much less diversity, but I still managed to experience as much diversity as possible, though my core friend group was only made up of a bunch of white girls. Oh well, I guess. I now live in another small town, on a small Christian-college campus in Pennsylvania again with very little racial diversity. I say all of this to provide a background and make the point of I, myself, have never really held any racial prejudices. But I understand that they are very real.
Before enrolling in this diversity course, this was my understanding of race relations. That as long as I was good and innocent of any discrimination, then I wasn't the problem. The problem however, isn't not being good; the problem is being good, and not requiring others to also be good. Does that make sense? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Basically the point I'm trying to make is that we cannot approach this issue purely from an individualistic perspective. It is much bigger than that. Every individual must come together and work to reach groups. We are all responsible for the injustice. Ignorance in this case, is inexcusable. The answer is not in turning our cheeks to the injustice or in rioting in protest, but in talking about it. Peacefully. We must actively pursue what is right and what is good. We must allow people to feel the anger that is within them, for we cannot deny emotions to those who rightfully deserve them.
I've not had to experience much of anything in my life in comparison, but I can only imagine what some before me have had to go through. We cannot change the past, we can only look forward. We cannot deny that we have come a long way, but we still have much farther to go from here.
In his response to the Ferguson case, President Barack Obama made this statement: "We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the last several decades...and to deny that progress, is to deny America's capacity for change. But what is also true is that there are still problems...these are real issues, and we have to lift them up and not deny them, or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is to understand them and figure out where we can make more progress."
Go forward in prayer for the nation. Educate yourself on the matter at hand and seek to effect real change in a positive, constructive way. Because if there is any thing that I have learned from all of this and from the past semester enrolled in a class on diversity it is that the only way to change what is not right is to work together, in peace, to fix it.