Why, in many instances of social unrest, do we look the other way; that we do nothing? But before we offer some possible answers, last week’s rampage in Washington gives us some context, a starting point.
Like millions, I watched in disbelief thousands of “protesters” (or whatever you choose to call them) converge on the Capital building. The images of them scaling walls, overwhelming police and breaking windows while lawmakers cowered in hiding or were rushed out for their safety will be etched into my memory forever.
Organizations gripped in COVID-related fear, uncertainty and job insecurity these days are ones that are most vulnerable for empowering bullies who thrive and exploit those realities.
Keep that thought in mind as you read this recent email.
“Terry, those in our office love your articles and want to know if you have written – or could write – something on bullying; not the overt type, but the subtle kind we’re seeing that’s hard to put your finger on. Got anything?”
When I got that email, two things entered my mind. First, given the havoc COVID is wreaking today, why on earth should we worry about bullying of all things?
The American Diversity Report’s theme focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on our community is as visionary as it is timely. It also opens up opportunities for contributors to offer insights tangential yet related impacts. What follows is a look at a peripheral issue; visiting those homebound because of the pandemic and other illnesses.
Two years ago, I fell off a 10-foot wall and broke three ribs. I ended up in the emergency room. The pain was excruciating.Back home while holed up in my bedroom in recovery for over a month, and plying myself with pain medicine, I lost my appetite and close to 25 pounds. It was unnerving to steal a look at the barely recognizable person – me that is – in the bathroom mirror during that time.
Now although the last thing I wanted was visitors, quite a few well-meaning folks wanted to stop by. But the specter of being stared at like a car wreck on the side of the road was something I didn’t want and asking them not to visit proved more difficult than I could imagine.
“A recent report co-authored by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project and Atlanta-based Militia Watch, warned that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon are at highest risk of increased militia activity in the election and post-election period.”
I could kick myself in the behind for my oversight.
And still might.
You see, by the time the ink is dry on this, the 2020 elections will be behind us. But unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to offer some tips on how to protect yourself from potential spikes in violence by right wing militia should Trump lose.
My hunch is that the majority of those well-meaning folks who say, “When I see you, I don’t color,” or a variation, have no idea how exhaustive it can be to many Black folks. And to Black folks who hear this constantly, the typical response is usually a deep inhale and a …. “well, here we go again!”
Case in point is Oprah Winfrey’s latest magazine “O” with an advice column headlined, “How to Deal with Your White Friends”– advice for Black women feeling worn down by the neediness of others to help them deal with racial issues.”
So why this recent surge in interest in racial issues, Black ones in particular?
“The Black Lives Movement wants to see the destruction of the nuclear family.” “BLM is a hate group that’s planning to destroy the police.” “Let us not be confused. BLM is nothing but a Marxist group.”
These are actual quotes – from politicians running for office (surprise, surprise, surprise) – that typifies how Black Lives Matter has become a convenient boogey man – a political wedge issue – these days. However, the words have moved from baseball caps and posters. They’re now painted in large letters on streets in New York, Washington, DC and other cities. You’ll even find the words on tattoos, and even engraved on protective masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Okay, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. And maybe that’s a good thing because you may not like what I’m about to say to you Ms. “What’s your name?”
You see, I pulled up in my SUV the other week, parked, put on my mask and was about to head into the grocery store when I saw you and your three young kids – two in car seats if I remember correctly – in the parking space next to me. And by the way, your kids – all less than five years old I’d guess – are absolutely beautiful. You must be one proud momma.
Now there was nothing out of the ordinary for me until I saw you roll down your window and pluck out a still smoldering cigarette you’d been puffing on. Hey, I thought (and wanted to shout) “hey lady, haven’t you heard about the dangers of second-hand smoke on children?” as I walked towards the store.
If there’s an upside to the images of those protesting the death of George Floyd, it’s dismantling the myth of angry blacks alone roaming the streets, looting, setting fires and burning down their neighborhoods. I mean, one must be blind if they did not see people other than African Americans holding up “Black Lives Matter” posters, getting tear gassed, hand cuffed, arrested ….andlooting. Truly a watershed moment in social history if ever there was one.
Pssst, hey COVID-19, sit your behind down. I have something to say to you. If you’re looking for us to throw in the towel because of what you’ve done, well it ain’t gonna happen.
Sure, you caught us off guard. We didn’t see you coming. You snuck into our back yard – “West Coast” yard, they say – and spread your destruction across our nation, snuffing out over 100,000 lives along your hellish way.
My son’s an avid jogger. For him, circling the track in a nearby park enough times to reach his 4-5-mile daily goal is no big deal. Shucks, his jogging regimen was enough motivation for me to join him on that track; not as a jogger but, okay, as a 2 mile “fast walker.” Thus, I’d not given more than a passing thought on the inherent dangers of “jogging while Black” until the Ahmaud Arbery story went viral.
“That could have been my son,” was the disconcerting thought – and rage – that unsettled my mind as I watched that sickening video and heard those gunshots that snuffed out that young man’s life.