Sometimes all it takes is one word to start a conversation. This is an invitation to start the conversation.
Choose a word, write it on an envelope or similar sized piece of paper, take a picture of your self holding that word like a ‘mug-shot’ and post it to your facebook wall, twitter account or here in my comments. Share it everywhere you can. We need these words if we’re ever going to get past the current conversation.
What ONE word would you use to start the conversation about race in America?
In the last few days, I have seen people writing and posting about how hurt they are, or how justified they feel; I’ve heard people speak about feeling abandoned and feeling angry and also feeling proud and honored to be American. My friends sit on both sides of the Zimmerman verdict and I have resisted the urge to unfriend those I disagree with because I believe in dialogue. But REAL dialogue. No matter how I feel, I refuse to discuss the case because I was neither victim, accused, judge, jury or witness. The dialogue we can all legitimately have…and that we NEED to have, is the conversation about race, today in our society. America has a problem. When communities start destroying their own property because of how impotent they feel in the system and when the media chooses only to talk about that destruction instead of the beautiful way those same communities that have come together to hold and reassure their children that they are safe and loved, we have a problem. When we start comparing only black and white, not just in skin color, but in actual issues, we have a problem. When we start whispering how we really feel instead of speaking it aloud, we have a problem. This is how we know we have reached the end of the silent road, of suspicion and hatred. This is the end of silence and the beginning, hopefully of millions of voices shouting “let me be heard!”
Why “un-mugged?” I have spent a lifetime of watching women clutch their purses when they are alone with me on a subway car. I have also (just this weekend) watched someone cross a street because we were the only two coming toward each other. I have spent 30+ years watching police cars slow down when I’m alone on a street, or follow me when I’m driving. I am no criminal, no mugger, no thief. But I have brown skin and dreadlocks and I look young. I fit a profile. And although you may think this is something in my imagination, there are millions of black American men who will back me up. I should never expect to have a “mug-shot” taken of me unless I’m in a protest, but the odds say that my chances of that happening are much higher than any other demographic in the country. I shouldn’t have to live like that. I don’t intend to ever see it happen…and neither should you. This is the only mugshot that will ever be taken of me. This picture represents my way of eliminating that chance…being ‘un-mugged’.
Let’s get rid of both the racism we endure and the racism we ignore.