September 11, 2001. I will never forget this day for as long as I live. I was just a scrawny 9th grader, who was running late to her Social Studies class. As I rushed through the door, I was prepared to have to answer to my teacher. But I quickly realized no one was paying attention to me. Instead, everyone’s eyes were glued to the television. I quickly found my seat and finally took a look at the TV. At that very moment, I watched an airplane fly directly into one of the Twin Towers. I will never forget the feeling that came over me that day, and the many days to follow. Never for a second did I think I would live through a time that something like this would happen: America was under attack and it scared me immensely. In the days that followed that tragedy, we as a country came together. We quickly realized that we had enemies that were determined to bring harm right to our front door…it was war. Now, almost 15 years later, it seems that we are at war again. But now, we are at war with ourselves.
If you have been watching the news, you are aware of the recent events that have taken place. How is it that the police can kill an unarmed person? Or, a civilian opens fire at a peaceful protest killing police officers? Why would one feel the need to go to a nightclub and killing 49 people? How can a man rape a woman, then gets caught, only be sentenced to a few months in prison? Yet a teen be committed of a crime he did not commit and be sentenced to life? Why did a group beat up defenseless Muslim teens? These events have triggered a huge divide amongst Americans regarding: racism, homosexuality, police brutality, and social injustice. It is sad to say, that as a country that has overcome so much, that hate and violence have put us in a downward spiral. Some are in denial, some are so angry that they have taken matters into their own hands. But one thing remains certain, something needs to change.
I am a black woman. I was raised to be proud of who I am, and go after what I want. I can honestly say, these last few days have been extremely hard on me. The tragedies that have taken place have awakened that same sense of fear that I felt 15 years ago. I am hurting for all those that we have lost, and how divided we are. I am angry, because as a country we still do not know how to understand and respect our differences. I am frustrated because I want things to change, but do not know what to do.
As I write this, I can honestly say that I still do not know what to do, but I cannot sit still any longer. What does our future hold if we continue down this path? One thing is for sure; America needs a big slice of humble pie and an attitude adjustment. Here are some things that we can all do better:
Understand that when someone says “Black Lives Matter”, they do not mean that all lives don’t matter. Understand that when someone says “Gay Lives Matter”, that Heterosexual lives matter any less. Understand that when someone says “Muslim Lives Matter”, they are not saying that all other religions are inferior. Understand that when some fight for Women’s Rights, they are not discounting the rights of men. Rather, when some feel compelled to voice these ideals, be slow to interject and be quick to try and understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do. Understand that people can only speak to what they experience personally, and just because it is not your reality does not mean it is not their reality. Understand, that some do not experience the same treatment in America simply because of the way they look, the way they choose to live their lives, or their religious background. In fact, when you interject you are further proving that you are not interested in understanding the struggles they face and the underlying message that their proclamations actually are saying: We Matter Too.
With regards to any healthy relationship in life, communication is key. I have said it before, and I will say it again: the age we now live in enabled us to become more connected than ever thought possible. But, with that newfound connection, there is a huge DISCONNECT. People don’t take the time to actually speak and get to know those around them. Instead, they are quick to pass judgment and stereotype. The sense of community has dwindled. No one takes the time to get to know one another and their differences. This is a huge problem, because ultimately people fear what they do not know. It is now more important than ever to have these conversations regarding inequality and the deep divide in our country.
One of the things that I think is so different nowadays is that people are slow to take action. I realized, I was one of those people. We complain, we debate, we plan to boycott, and then… it fades away. Only a few decades ago, people in this country fought for equality and they were willing to take a stand and take action. After 9/11, people came together and were ready and willing to take action. We need that same fire again; we can’t simply wait around for these issues to fix themselves. So I ask you, what are you doing to help our country unite?
Stay tuned for more blog post from one of our favorite Spot girls, Mo.
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