Monday, October 22, 2007

Empty Noose

An empty noose was brought up today by Harry on the Early Show doing an interview with Maya Angelou.
Evidently (I don't know the circumstances) an empty noose was hung somewhere - somewhere significant I am supposing, (not in a halloween sort of way) to make a statement of violence and bigotry.

I was very much relieved when I heard Dr. Angelou's response.
She said that it's important to recognize that we have come a long way. That it's not a matter of calling the glass half full, but that in order to encourage young people to know that leaders do make a difference, we need to recognize progress.

I've always felt the same way.
Not necessarily to encourage others toward acting progressively- though I see the importance of that, certainly - but I just imagine what the world must have looked like a bit over fifty years ago.
I can hardly even imagine it. It angers me when folks at my work demonstrate their racial prejudices through ordinary dialogue with me. It angers me that because my skin is a similar shade to their own they assume that speaking such things is acceptable to me (I'm not speaking of atrocities, but blithely expressed prejudices). Leaves my head spinning, sometimes.
How hurtful it must have been to a gentle spirit - one who understood in their heart that all men are equal - to have to guard his words, and her every action. How debilitating to have to guard one's self from interacting openly and civilly with others on the streets of their own town.
As much as I think an empty noose would pain me - and it would, it would hurt my heart, I cannot even imagine seeing someone swaying in that same noose.
I cannot imagine people gathering underneath it and cheering and hissing while a man is being led to and then hanged until his death.

I don't profess to have to no prejudices of my own. Sometimes I have a thought and think "where the hell did that come from?" such as assuming someone isn't as bright or as thoughtful as I simply because they do not speak my language. It's ridiculous. I have no explanation for it. I don't understand it, as I truly believe that the color of one's skin is of no more importance than one's hair color in the name of humanity.

I pray for a time when there are so many shades of humanity that we cannot discern where one stops and another begins.
In the name of this aim, I smile on the inside (and probably on the outside, too) when I see families that are inter-racial. One small step for man, one giant step for mankind sort of thing. They are the beginning of it.

I believe that noticing progress is not only vitally important toward encouraging leadership as gentle Dr. Angelou pointed out, but I also believe it's helpful to put one's mind on the upswing, if you will. That keeping one's mind and heart and fears in the dregs is not a very uplifting place for anyone.
It doesn't lift anyone out of the gutters.

So I'll notice the difference.
I'll shudder at the thought of an empty noose, but be so grateful.
I'll honor time passing well by continuing to smile at people I pass on the street.
I'll be glad that it's illegal to ask on an application the question of "Race?"
Though I would find great satisfaction in placing upon that small black line "Human".


Mama Podkayne said...

There is no proven biological basis for race. That said: race, the concept of, is a cultural device but a biological myth. We are all the same species. The difference lies not in skin color but in cultural devices and gentleness and humanity. Some humans are drastically lacking in humanity.

I often find myself judging students (both online and in person) by their language devices.Yes, something that is learned, but to me it indicates much much more. Language is an expression of inner thought. Time after time I am proven wrong by these students. :)

Stephanie said...

A beautiful response, MP, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.