What do I mean by standing up? I mean it in a few ways. I begin with myself. I know what I am passionate about, and I am learning to advocate for myself. As a child, I was not that way. I was outwardly focused and avoided speaking up for myself, particularly in my family. I was what you would call a people pleaser. Watching out for others is not a bad thing, but, initially, it did not help me to know myself.
I am learning to stand up more for myself. I have spoken up for myself for some time and belonged to groups where I could speak out against what I thought was unjust. One area I have felt strongly about is respecting all people: all races, all sexual orientations, all religions, and all cultures. There have been a few heroes who support my beliefs, and I have written about them before in this blog. One who I haven’t written about before is the documentary maker and speaker, Ken Burns. I am still working on a historical novel in which I used facts from the documentary he made and completed about the Civil War in 1990.
This last week I learned about Ken Burns’ talk at the National Endowment of the Humanities. I had the good fortune to hear Ken Burns speak on history in Charlotte, North Carolina when I lived there more than 8 years ago. I remembered it to be outstanding speech. What I love about this talk is that Ken Burns is standing up and speaking about race as a white male. His is telling his story and interweaves it with our American history.
I am giving you the link to the written speech because the video was not working.
Another person I heard about last weekend is a black singer named Adia Victoria who stands up for herself and other African Americans in her music and tells it how she sees it. Her new album is called “Beyond the Bloodhounds”.
I heard her on Public Radio. Here is the podcast.
For me, race in this country and the issues we have are still with us. I personally have friends from all backgrounds and cultures, and my life is richer for it. As a white woman, I do NOT have to live the discrimination that people of color in this country have to experience frequently, if not daily. However, as a woman and coming from the family I did, I know how this disrespect feels. I grew up though, and sometimes those old patterns of behavior affected my CHOICES. I know that my black friends experience discrimination in NOT subtle ways. They share their pain and stories with me.
My dream is that one day all of us could speak FRANKLY about how this country is NOT a level playing field for people of color at all. It is hard for us to become COMPASSIONATE for each other if we are coming from hate, blame, and fear. It is hard if certain people in this country are vilifying certain groups: Latinos, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim refugees, and African Americans. Fear NEVER solved any problem. It only creates division between people and it stops us from rational THINKING (REALLY).
It is the fertile ground from which DESTRUCTIVE choices for ALL AMERICANS are made.