Given the current situation in the country over growing racism, attacks on immigrants, and people of color. I’m fixin to share some of my reflections as a White Women born and raised in the South. This is to all y’all while people.
Who am I?
I reckon, I’ll start off with that I’m a born and raised Southern Gal. Born and raised in NC, I know my ACC basketball and don’t even get me started on Tobacco Road. Where true sweet tea with more sugar than tea ran through my veins from the moment I could drink from my own cup. My “Mima” teaching me how to play at the local bridge club from a young age and yes in High School people drove their tractors to school. The local traffic got real bad during harvest season and there were more fields than sky scrapers. I graduated from the same high school as my father (one of 2 in the county) and never went to a middle school because our schools were K-8. You never missed church on a Sunday.
We learned hunters safety in 9th grade physical education and yes this included learning how to and actually shooting guns during school hours. About half the trucks had the confederate flag, and civil war reenactments were serious matters. During day light, I can take you the field where the KKK was founded and most folks in the community owned guns and would shoot first and ask questions later. While my friends went to the beach or amusement park for vacation, my family was taking us to the national parks and historical sights. To this day I’ve never been to Myrtle Beach but I can tell you where almost every “historical sign is throughout North Carolina.
I’m a Southern Gal born and raised in the same town my father was born in. My great-aunt, the first ever licensed female lawyer in the South grew up about 20 miles from my families home and my great-aunt lived just across yonder from my Mima and Papa growing up.
But I’m also the grand-child of a WWII veteran (who is one of my heroes), who taught me growing up through actions (and then when I turned 16 and moved in through words), that he fought for the freedom of our country and our rights to challenge the status quo and system when it oppressed someone else. That our freedom of expression was a special part of being American, but must not ever be used to terrorize or hurt others. He fought for my right to fight for the rights immigrants and others oppressed in this country, he would share later in life, not for the rights of people to take advantage of and oppress others. Never forget this, he would remind me often when I was home.
I’m the grand-daughter and daughter, of history teachers who ensured we read our history, knew our history, and loved studying history to ensure that we never repeated the mistakes. Museusms badges became a bragging right, and I was a junior ranger at every national park or state park we could fine. And as I learned, history is meant to be remembered on all sides. We can’t ignore part of history I was reminded over and over. Even living history, my father would share what is was like growing up during desegregation in the local schools as he would lecture me on why I had to treat everyone fairly in elementary school.
In High School, the stories became more detailed because I would be reminded if we don’t keep working for justice. My best friend was an immigrant a fact my family never batted an eye at, but was quick to point out when I would get uncomfortable at being followed in stores, stared at during trips, and frustrated that I didn’t know how to communicate with her parents, that I was blessed and the question was what would I do with those blessings would I take advantage of people like my friend or would I give my life to working for equity and justice for all like Jesus did.
Now fast forward to 2017,
I’m living out in Southern California organizing for just and lasting peace in the Philippines, working with victims of human trafficking, and trying educate churches on the struggles of immigrant workers by lifting the voices of the workers we serve to places where they will listen. Blessed to be surrounded by a community that trust me and that I trust with my life, and isn’t afraid to call me out when I overstep my priviledge and has helped me see more ways than I could have dreamed of on how the little things are overstatements of my priviledge and what I can do about them.
Holding fast to those lessons I grew up with but learning more about other peoples struggles and their first hand experiences. Living my life in Jesus footsteps, in my calling, held accountable by my community.
And the recent events that played out in Charottlesville, while saddening and frustrating were not at all a bit shocking as someone who grew up in the South. What did surprise me was the fact, that we in 2017 are still trying to protect Confederate Statues like the Confederates won the war and that the Civil Rights never happened? The more time I spent on Facebook, the more at a loss for words I became. People trying to defend themselves for they “aren’t Racist” (aka they aren’t part of the KKK or Neo-Nazi’s) but why was the other side there. If the black and brown people would have stayed quiet then nothing bad would have happened. We are color blind in the US.
NEWS FLASH: They’ve been quiet for too long. We (yes I’m looking at everyone who is of European Descent aka WHITE) have ignored them, walked over them, and taken advantage and set the system up to never allow them to be even with us. Yes simple kneeling is ok. Its still respectful, as my WWII Veteran Papa taught me, he fought for our right to challenge the system for justice for everyone in the USA. And for freedom of speech (that wasn’t terror filled) and action. We have to bring attention to the issues so we can begin to know they are issues.
NOW is the time, that we start having hard conversations amongst our selves about how we can start to dismantle this system that brings us benefits for a life that values everyone…meaning if Black Lives don’t matter, if Immigrant lives don’t matter, if Muslim lives don’t. Then we haven’t achieved justice.
THEN after we begin conversations amongst ourselves, we need to get out and listen to Black and Brown people. Hear their struggles, listen to their experiences. Y’all they aint making this stuff of, it happens daily.
And finally, we need to ask what they would like us to do while we hold our own people accountable. And take action based on their request and only that. Don’t be a savior, highlight yourself, or try to speak on behalf of them. Use your voice to get them access to spaces where there voices are so easily ignored. Get out there with them in the street, raise your voice, your actions, understanding your most likely safer than they are. Don’t become to big for your britches, get out their and work hard together.
No its not easy. And no, it doesn’t happen at a drop of a hat. We have to put it work, prove we’re authentic, and keeping putting in work ’till the cows come home’.
Because as my Mima taught me Can’t never could until we got to puttin in the action. For the creek ain’t gonna rise any time soon. So even if your worn slap out, keep on trucking. Its about time, we got on the wagon together. Go get out their y’all.
I invite folks for further conversation, sharing, and how to begin to have these hard conversations.