A Good Home

The Courage to Do Something

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.

 

 

 

 

 

42 thoughts on “The Courage to Do Something”

  1. Brilliant post. The honesty and hopefulness of what you write will resonate longer than the conventional platitudes of Mother’s Day. Thanks for sharing this with us, especially since you are a new Grandmother. 🙂

  2. You made a good decision, Cynthia. I’m sure the post you intended would have been excellent – they always are – but this one is so powerful and so important. Thank you. I will repost it tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, if that’s all right with you.

  3. Oh, Cynthia. I did not want to watch the video of that young man being shot, but I knew I had to. And I cried. I was heartened by how many of my friends on social media walked or ran in honor of him. And I hope you post a link to your relative’s article. I would really like to read it.

  4. I cried reading this post, Cynthia, that the world is the way it is. It needs all of us to change it, take risks, do the right thing in a given circumstance, to stand up to the powers behind what keeps us down. Fear is a potent immobilizer, just as anger can mobilize one into action. Life is a series of forks in the road where we can decide which path to take. Fear and inertia must be overcome.

  5. I grew in near Atlanta and there were Klan headquarters on our Main Street. My high school classmate was the grandson of the Grand Wizard and he abhorred the whole thing. As do I and thank you for your message of hope, my nephew in Atlanta was doing the Run with Maud.

  6. Wise words Cynthia. If only people would realise we are all the same. The colour of our skin, the language we speak, whether we have a disability or not, it makes no difference. We are all equal. Happy mother’s day.

  7. Some things that need to be said…and said again, you have written most powerfully. It brought tears indeed, but also made me want to stand taller and act as you suggest: challenge, commit, do. Thank you Cynthia.

  8. “Small acts of courage” if only people could put those wise words into action more often. We are ALL children of God, and how much better the world could be if everyone truly understood that. Powerful post. ❤️

  9. I was greatly moved by your eloquent reflection and call to action. It breaks my heart that my dad and his contemporaries fought (and in too many cases died) for civil rights and social equality, yet the battle continues.

  10. There are very many white people who do believe in justice and equal rights for all and we often point out what is wrong and what can happen when you don’t believe in these things. We don’t stand at a microphone on television. We speak across the lunch table at work, or in whatever other social situations we find ourselves in, but we do speak. Staying silent is simply not an option.

  11. Thanks for your courage in speaking up by writing this post Cynthia. I feel sad that we’re still mired in these race issues. Maybe more of us need to stand up to bullies and racists. Certainly, we need to embrace each other as one human family. Thanks for caring and writing a powerful post filled with hope, courage, and subtle outrage.

  12. Sometimes it seems we’re just standing still. I was mortified by that video and but he fact that it was only public outcry that made the police do their jobs. I fear for my country, but I am heartened by people who stand up, whether in public or across a table. It needs to be done and you helped move it forward today.

  13. A moving post which is especially moving on so close to Mother’s Day.
    The lyrics by Bob Marley still so on point and relevant today.
    The black woman who is brave and accomplished but afraid of the police….
    Thank you for posting

  14. Your post is a great motivator to make sure you speak up when something is wrong. What a sad day Mother’s Day will be for these women!

  15. Wow. I saw that video yesterday too. I find it incredible that anyone anywhere gives a flying squirrel what colour another person’s skin is. It’s nuts. Bat plop crazy. The human race really should have left this crap behind by now.

    I completely agree. It’s hard, but we have to call it when we hear it now. Thank you.

    Cheers

    MTM

  16. Good for you Cynthia. That poor family in Georgia is right, and all the other families that are enduring the pillaging of America and are afraid to live in their own homeland. Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Asians have all become at risk with what’s going on south of the border. I follow very closely and post freely about things that are just plain wrong. I sign petitions for both Canada and US and speak out wherever I go. People have to talk about it and keep it in the forefront til it catches on and sheeples start opening their eyes. ❤

    1. We won’t know till we’re tested, Jacqui. And even then, we might find ways to explain/justify our inaction. But we may surprise ourselves. That’s why I recommend doing small acts of courage: the big acts can overwhelm.

  17. That’s a very honest answer. I’ve never been tested, Cynthia. It seems so very wrong. It’s hard enough to watch our kids growing up and the dangers and hardships that befall them, but to have to live in fear of the people whose duty it is to protect… We always thought that if you did nothing wrong then you had nothing to fear. That doesn’t seem to be true in this day and age.

    1. Thanks very much, Jo. Having up to 6 generations of Black relatives in the UK, US, and Canada, I know it;’s never been true for Black people – not then and not now. I sometimes wish all White people in those countries could become Black, even for a year. It’s a profoundly different experience.

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