I am really at a loss when it comes to love, hatred and indifference. Love in itself doesn’t present much of a problem. I think it can generally be agreed that love is good and there should be more it, etc., etc. But the other two …
No, my question doesn’t involve the goodness or badness of either one, but rather which is more difficult to deal with when sensitive issues are at hand.
About three months ago, at work, two colleagues were editing a document when one called out to me in the next room, “Hey, next year is the year for people of African Descent!”
I thought that was a bit of an odd thing to say, and for more than a second I thought that might be an odd thing to celebrate for an entire year. I thought to myself and did say in response, “So what? Do I get some sort of prize?”
There was a bit of an uncomfortable silence – at least on my side. I mean, what could be said in response? What possible turn could the conversation take at that point? Not an easy one, certainly and so it was just better to put it to rest. But I did pull out my notebook and my pen because I felt the nigglings of a beginning which I am still seeking to bring to fruition.
The idea of taking all of 2011 to celebrate the descendants of the Black Diaspora did not leave me indifferent, though I pretended for a moment that it did. Frankly, it’s just that often when I express myself clearly on the Transatlantic Slave Trade, continued racism, or any of the slightest issues that have affected me as a person of African descent, I find myself in trouble. I am either met with rationalization, denial of any direct personal involvement with those issues or sometimes a “you know, you people just need to get over that!”
Get over what exactly? Over roughly half a millennium of slavery? Racism and stereotyping? What some experts refer to as Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder and the havoc that that continues to wreak on minority communities?
I say no. I say it again even. No. And please don’t label me as afrocentric because of that refusal. Please do not diminish the importance of the past and the desperate need to continue open dialogue to a word for which the connotation evokes little more than, say, “smelly hippy”.
I certainly questioned the importance of celebrating such a year or holidays like Juneteenth. And I’m not alone in that questioning if the amount of published artices doing just are an indication.
If there is anything that I have gathered just from the experience of life itself, it’s that there is lingering anger, hatred and indifference when it comes to celebrating black persons as a people. And there are efforts to cast shame on any such celebration. To me, it’s as if the joys and sorrows are being pushed down into an air-tight box – and then sat on … by someone very large …
Really taking the time to learn about the issues facing our neighbors would be a wonderful way to give air back to groups that are positively gasping for it. Instead of doubting the validity of a person’s fears and prejudices, if those very things are the product of the society that produced the person, it would be good to remember that remembrance in itself is a positive tool for reconciliation and a way to move forward.
So, I apologize if I’ve gotten preachy on this one, but I did feel a bit heartsick from what I feel to be indifference to feelings that do not deserve to be discarded. I’m really interested in knowing what people have to say on this topic – so leave a comment!