While in college, I spent a summer interning at a uniform company. After graduating, I continued working with the same company in the management trainee program. While working through the program, the company hired another intern – a black male. A mostly black production crew high-fived each other and patted me on the back. They began to inform me that before I got there, the specific branch of the company had NEVER had a black in management. My mouth dropped. Some of the ladies had worked there for 28 years. 1 branch manager, 1 office manager, 1 production manager, 1 sales manager, 4 route supervisors, 2 production supervisors. Not one black management trainee. Not one black manager. Not one black supervisor. EVER. They commended the fact that I had done such an outstanding job that the company had now begun to expand their thinking. Perhaps African-Americans can lead here.
Then the intern started coming in late a little too frequently or, even better, participating in the “no-call, no-show”shenanigans.
I wanted to shake him. I wanted to knock some sense into him. I get it. He is 20 years-old. He is being young and dumb. Unfortunately, he could not afford such luxuries.
He was there representing more than himself.
I teeter between tears and rage daily. I am completely unsure of what straw broke the camel’s back. I cannot quite unveil what triggered such extreme but equally passionate emotions.
When did I start caring so much?
Am I an activist?
Do I even understand what being an activist entails?
What am I advocating?
And I go into prayer. I do not want to become one of those people so stuck on an agenda that I no longer noticed that people have stopped listening? Nor do I want to become so complacent in my “this doesn’t pertain to me” attitude nor my “what in the world can I do about it” attitude….
I bought my first shirt. And when I bought it, I thought to myself, “this is it. I am officially one of those people.”
And I started to look into what I could do to change the world.
And I wanted to find every protest and rally or boycott for black lives, for blue lives.
And I prayed.
And God told me, “you no longer represent yourself…
Here is what I need you to say.”
Quote Challenge Day 2
I absolutely believe that the African-American community has suffered tremendous injustices. I believe that black lives matter.
I also believe that blue lives matter. I refuse to ignore the fact that innocent officers died at the hands of a extremists trying to make a point.
I hoped that through tragedy, we could come together…
I hoped we could all see that innocent lives lost for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the presence of extremists with the wrong mindset is something that we, as a country, need to address.
As I discussed the relevance or irrelevance of the topics of the Obama’s eulogy with my husband, we detoured to all of the ignorance on both extremes. And the conversation ended in my tears. And I cried, “You don’t get it. That could have daddy who has always been a productive citizen of society. That could have been Miggs [my nephew]…Things like that don’t happen to ________________ [insert name here of two nephews from his side of the family].”
And I watched him grow silent, watched my words hit home, then ran off in an emotional frenzy.
I came back, apologized for being so emotional, and sat down. He told me not to apologize, and then said, “I love your dad. I love Miggs. They are my family too.”
And he watched me grow silent, watched his words hit home.
How quickly I had forgotten the family resemblance.
I was fighting the wrong enemy.
Bertier’s did not address right or wrong, black or white. He addressed ignorance.
He let best friend into the room and allowed remaining hospital members to do their jobs.
How often do we spend time battling ignorance?
You address ignorance. You dismiss ignorance, and then you begin to fight the real enemy.
Both Julius and Bertier realized that they represented more than themselves.
They could not always say what they wanted to say, act how they wanted to act, do whatever they wanted to do.
They understood that the love they had for one another as teammates, as friends, as “brothers” would do more to bring resolution than anything they could say or do.
How do we begin to stop injustice? How do we invite change? How do we pass bills to ensure innocent lives are not lost?
We love. We love more than we hate. We become more than the rampant, loud ignorance, black AND white.
And together we change the world, one loved one at a time.