Race Unity Day Reflection

I told myself I would do a reflection blog the day after Race Unity Day, but...as usual, I overestimated my ability to have enough energy to do everything I intended to do (the Superwoman syndrome, Black women like me have it BAD), and I didn't take into account that I would not only be emotionally and physically depleted after an intense workshop, but also I would somehow have to drag myself out of bed the next morning and go to work. There has to be a self help group for Black women who do too much. When women like me get on the "gotta-save-the-world" tip, we forget that we have very human limitations. It never seems to occur to me to only do a little bit at a time, and ask for help with big projects. One day I'll learn. I hope.

O.K., so how did it go? It went well. Many of the people who said they would come didn't, but I still had a nice little gathering. I have a pretty small place anyway, so it was good that only half of the people came. Next year, I'll reserve a community room at a library. Oh yes, I'm doing this again. I learned a lot, and most of it was about letting go of past experiences, thoughts and feelings so I can open the door for new ways of thinking and acting. I need to do that as much as possible and I suspect that other people want to do the same. It ain't easy, though. One idea became clear to me during the workshop--incorporating new thoughts and ideas about race unity is an emotionally exhausting journey, and no one can do it alone. We all need help along the way. That's why I'm going to do it again next, albeit in conjunction with others. It's much better when you have help with these things. Not just help putting on a workshop, although that's a big part of it for me. But I also need help with the spiritual transformation process in regards to race. That is the most difficult part.

For too long, the subject of race relations has been considered to be a "black folks thing". We were the ones who were on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement; we took on the job of bringing the issue of racial discrimination to the forefront of America's conscientiousness. In essence, we owned the issue. There's nothing wrong with that, except that owning the issue of dealing with racism will ultimately yield very modest success, if even that. Everyone must own the issue in order to have the peace that has been eluding us so far. All of us, black, white, red, yellow, brown and every color in between. Race unity is not a "black folks thing". It is a human thing.

Two things happened within two weeks of the Race Unity workshop that convinced me that I have to continue doing this. People who know me well know that I am extremely protective of my kids. Well, o.k., they're adults now. But I still think of them as my kids. But it's ironic that my two daughters, Clarissa and Chenelle, recently experienced extremely negative incidents because of the color of their skin. Chenelle's experience occurred one week before the Race Unity workshop, and Clarissa's happened one week after.

In Chenelle's case, the circumstances were as followed: A loud misunderstanding broke out between a guest of one of her roommates and their next door neighbor. Chenelle's roommates and the friend are all white, and the neighbors are of Mexican descent. The disagreement began to wane, but a friend of the neighbors, who just happened to be white, jumped into the discussion. Chenelle, forever the peacemaker, had been trying to mediate the argument so that people could walk away with some semblance of dignity. The neighbor's friend decided to take offense to my daughter's intervention by telling her that she needed to "go back where you came from, n*****!" Chenelle, who ordinarily abhors all expressions of violence, blew up and chased the woman to her car. Of course, the obviously deranged woman burned rubber trying to get away. Chenelle may love peace and strive to bring about that virtue in reality, but she's no pacifist. She was raised by a hell-raiser of a mother who appeared to be placid and agreeable to most people, but gave no quarter when angered. Chenelle is definitely her mother's daughter. She will give anyone the benefit of the doubt until the line of no return is crossed. And that woman definitely crossed it.

My other daughter, Clarissa, is my oldest child. And she is pregnant with my first grandchild. She does business administration consulting in the Bay Area, and she has to do a lot of driving around to meet with clients. She was stopped at a red light in Sausilito (across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco) when an older white man came up to her car and yelled, "Get out of Sausilito, n****r; we don't want your kind living here anymore!" She was shocked, and frightened. This wasn't just about her; that man was threatening her and her child. Ordinarily, Clarissa would have engaged in a sharp rebuttal and more, but she realized that man who crazy enough to walk out into traffic just to say that was nuts enough to kill her and her unborn child. So she sped off. This incident took place one week after the Race Unity workshop.

Now I ask you: how do you think I feel? I am their mother, and even though I'm technically not responsible for the safety and well-being of my children anymore, I still feel that I am. I went through garbage like that way too often when I was growing up. Here it is, 2007, and the same thing happens to yet another generation. Is it going to happen to my soon-to-be-born grandson, Xavier? Not if I can help it. 'Scuse my language, folks, but they done pissed off the WRONG woman! Not if I have anything to do and say about it! I'm going to do these workshops until the planets in the Milky Way stop revolving around the sun! I'm doing them from beyond death, if necessary, because THIS CRAP HAS TO STOP!

That's all there is to it. I'm out.


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