I had planned a lovely post about Mother’s Day. Then I read a moving post by Liz Gauffreau.
Her post included a review of the book Queenie’s Place and comments by author Toni Morgan. Morgan reveals that the book was inspired by her own (American) experiences in the 60’s and 70’s.
Segregation of public washrooms, drinking fountains and buses and a sign declaring an area of N. Carolina “Klan Country” were part of it. She says:
“I always regretted that I hadn’t had the nerve to make a statement on the bus when I was younger. So I created a character in Doreen who experienced some of the things I had over the years, but had the courage to do something about it.”
Don’t we all wish we had had the courage to address a wrong? Moments where we turned away — perhaps out of fear for our safety, our jobs, friends or social status?
Yesterday, I had 2 experiences that shook me. One was seeing the video of the young Black jogger in Georgia who was chased by two White men (one a former policeman) and shot to death. Then I saw photos of the young man’s mother and read her anguished statement.
Here is yet another Black American woman who will be grieving on Mother’s Day.
The second event was when a relative in America sent me an article he had written. A young man known for being calm and clear-headed, he had written an article that was passionate, angry, and action-oriented. His fury was palpable.
He is White. His wife, a brilliant and influential Black woman, is confident in most aspects of her life — but fearful of police. My relative wrote as an “ally” with up-close knowledge of what it’s like to fear police officers as potential killers.
I suggested ways to make the article more effective, but I did not tell my relative that reading it shook me up for long minutes.
Then I started singing a Bob Marley song whose words came from Haile Selassie decades ago:
“Until the philosophy that holds one race superior & another inferior is finally & permanently discredited & abandoned
Until there are no longer 1st-class & 2nd-class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race
Until that day, the dream of lasting peace & world citizenship & the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.”
It didn’t calm me. Instead, it reminded me: attaining basic human rights for all is a formidable struggle – and it requires all people of conscience to do something.
I see so many tweets saying that we Black people are on our own: that “White people cannot be trusted” to do what’s right to help achieve justice and equal human rights for all. I don’t believe that.
I believe we each have a role to play. That the big brave acts may overwhelm us, but each of us is capable of a small act of courage. Even after we have failed to “make a statement on the bus”, we can rally and make a difference to someone’s life.
We can take part in protest marches, walks or runs, vote for our beliefs, join initiatives to bring about change, or take one of many other steps. We can commit to acting as allies for a more just society. And sometimes, we can step across that invisible line and write an article (or even a book) that challenges people like ourselves to find a bit of courage, to do something that could make a difference to others.
Our small acts of courage can ripple across the pond and create big waves that could help more mothers to have a happy Mother’s Day.