The Color of Love
One balmy evening on vacation my husband and I closed down a restaurant chatting with a lovely couple also from Los Angeles. The husband had recently completed sound editing on both the O.J. Simpson scripted series with Cuba Gooding Jr., and ROOTS 2016. I told him it was ironic that my vacation reading of choice was to finally finish Simon Northrup’s painful but riveting autobiography “Twelve Years a Slave”, and not only had I done that, but I had devoured the lives of Frederick Douglass, and slave Josiah Henson as well in the Kindle package of books.
Fast forward to a few weeks later at home watching the extraordinarily educational OJ: MADE IN AMERICA five-part documentary series on ESPN. We vividly lived the OJ saga in our neck of the woods with constant circling helicopters and Lookie-loos on Bundy slowing traffic for years as we locals ran errands. Had the series been just about the trial and murders I would have passed as the subject has been rehashed to the point of obsession. This documentary, however, was so much larger than O.J. Simpson or the tragedy of his life choices and their horrific repercussions.
As a privileged white woman in America, it is impossible for me to fully comprehend the African American experience in Los Angeles or any other city in our nation. The extreme dichotomy of racial perceptions was never more blatantly revealed than in the opposing response by the majority of blacks and whites to the results of that trial, myself included.
I have learned that if you don’t take the time to appreciate the complete African American journey beginning with the brutal kidnapping of their ancestors as property, with no freedom or rights, then you cannot fully comprehend where we are in our culture today. The majority of white America will always be shamed by this truth in our human history and the instinct is to say okay, it was bad. We hate slavery too and don’t believe in it. It was an atrocity of the times. Now, why can’t we move on? White America desperately wants to lump our African American neighbors originating from slavery into the same category as the immigrant, but this is impossible. There is no comparison to freely choosing to build your new life in another country and being trafficked into forced labor and oppression. Even if you were considered a “good and kind slave owner” you were still contributing to the institution and perpetuating the dilemma of the African American race. This legacy of mistrust and abuse of human rights carried right over after emancipation and into my life as a child of the south in the 60’s. The documentary, combined with a fresh reading of historical accounts of actual slaves, fitted my feet a little further into the shoes of my friends of color. Like it or not, racism is still alive and well in 2016.
Tension in race relations post L.A. 1992 riots, and the OJ trial of 95 have increased these last several years with the tragedy of Trayvon Martin and the like. I doubt it will completely simmer down in my lifetime. Relatively speaking our country is still a child with growing pains. There is no other nation with our unique history, challenges, and diversity to learn from and compare.
My daughter has her Master’s in psychology and in discussing the ongoing dilemma she remarked that we should all be in therapy together. Family therapy would be a good thing were it possible. Because the truth is many, if not most, blacks and whites share the same DNA with a percentage of Caucasians unwittingly carrying the bloodline of their African relatives. Ty Burrell from Modern Family is a perfect example and the touching 1996 film A FAMILY THING with Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones explores the journey of just such a compelling discovery.
Like the “Crazy Cycle” in a marriage, we as a general population of differing races, keep repeating our mistakes stubbornly alternating from defensive to antagonistic as we seek to blame and control instead of resolve. As long as we refuse to empathize and educate ourselves about the perspectives of varying cultures, we will continue to have violence, fear, corruption, racial profiling, lack of job opportunities, recidivism, judgment, and prolonged mistrust on all sides.
We must embrace our commonality as human beings on the planet regardless of race, creed, and gender. This mind set could help to bring unity worldwide if entertained by all. A psychopath with a hatred for what he could not understand outside of his culture murdered fifty souls this month in Orlando. The evil of bigotry dies hard, but I believe love and compassion are heartier at the core. I am committed to the hope of Christ and His directive of brotherly love. It is my goal with my monthly blogs to uplift, inspire, and encourage others in like manner.
“Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”