Our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity.
Oh buddy! I’ve been touched and reminded in the last few days. Reminded that there is a LOT of injustice still happening in our country. And reminded that I sometimes don’t know how to talk about race. I literally thank God for the relationships I developed while in Newark. The place where I was a racial, sometimes even socio-economic minority. I was so different from the majority of people in Newark – on the outside. But on the inside, MAN! we have a lot in common. And I’m so thankful for the people who taught me how to talk about race, the people who put up with my probably ridiculous questions.
Our attendance counselor who corrected my feeble Spanish. And then taught me about the difference between Hispanic and Latino. My sensei down the hall and a dear long-term substitute who put up with my genuine questions about the difference between African American and Black. And what’s offensive to them. Yup! I asked that. And then there’s always the talks I had with students who could swing from very candid to very guarded. Well, miss, you’re not really a white person. “I’m not?” I remember asking incredulously.
But that led me to this deeper understanding. What we often SEE as a racial problem – yes! I’m talking about it people – is more like a social class problem. Sean opened my eyes to this. Newark is comprised of lots of ethnic and racial lines. LOTS. It’s graduation rates, which often mark how successful a community is, is lower than 50%. It’s economic status? I’m not economists, but I do have eyeballs. Even with the prudential center, Bears stadium, Newark Penn Station, the airport, and the green iniative, if you walk around each section, you might see it’s not a thriving metropolis. I’m thinking it’s closer to financial poverty than abundant wealth. I’m wondering if it’s not about the color of one’s skin, but more the neighborhood of one’s birth. Which side of the tracks you grew up on. And what if those track sides have something to do with money??? Maybe the problem is more about the money. And how we use it . . . to . . . oppress? Is that really what we do? How do I do that?
This video says a lot. Bryan Stevenson is man who fights for many things that I know little about. But I’ll tell you, when he talks, I see the faces of people. Of kids. That I know. That I taught. That I love. And I found myself nodding because I’ve seen what he’s talking about. And I’ve gotta keep doing something.
A few notable quotes:
The politics of fear and anger make us believe that these are problems that are not our problems!
We have a hard time talking about race. I believe it’s because we’re unwilling to commit ourselves with truth and reconciliation.
The opposite of poverty is not wealth. … In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
“We have a system of justice in [the US] that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.