Last Sunday, my pastor preached a sermon entitled “What About The Children?” He closed it with a poem by Margaret Burroughs: “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?” It was the first time I ever heard him so choked up with emotion that he almost could not finish the service.
I understood where he was, because I have been there for what will soon be four years.
We have done a disservice to our children.
By “we”, I mean Black Americans born post-Civil Rights Era who have children in their charge. Parents, godparents, aunties, uncles, preachers, teachers…we have dropped the ball.
After what Grandma and Nem endured for our freedoms in this country, we owed it to the next generation to prepare them for life as a Black American. The bitter and the sweet of it.
We were complacent.
We did not impress upon them that our right to vote was bathed in the blood of our ancestors who were not considered human enough to be treated like citizens. Refusing to exercise that vote is not an option.
We rested on the laurels won by our ancestors. We lived our lives and raised the next generation as if there were no more battles to fight. We lavished our children with the false reality that racism was no longer their problem.
Some of our children–to their detriment and our chagrin–operate in the delusion that racism does not even exist.
We did them wrong, and now they are paying for it.
The day after the 2016 Presidential election, I cried for the children who had no idea of the maelstrom that was about to spin them into chaos. The children who, for whatever reason, had not been told of the evils of prejudice and racism, were about to experience a huge step backwards.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”George Santayana
Racism in America has gotten worse. It is not trickling behind backwater trailer parks anymore. It is flowing through the streets from open sewers. It is liberally vomited from the mouths of elected officials. The Boogeyman has taken off his Klan robes, revealing the badge that he has always worn underneath.
Ignoring the problem is no longer an option. The world stage now bears witness to America’s ugliness, and she is paying close attention to how we respond this time around.
My children, I apologize for my complacency. I am sorry that our generation did not overcome for you the way our elders overcame for us. We could have done a better job of stopping hatred in its tracks.
Nevertheless. I am glad to see that, despite our example, some of you (Ms. Tamika Mallory) have caught the light of our elders and lit your own torches.
Shine brightly, daughters and sons. Go light your world.