I write a lot about matters of race and American history, telling the stories the school books have neglected. As you can imagine, the topics aren’t always heartwarming. I have written about the forced breeding of enslaved women so that their children can be sold for profit. Another topic is the true history of the Founding Fathers, the early Presidents, and the first Supreme Court Justices. Most of them were owners of enslaved people and acted in their own interests to maintain that status (I’m looking especially at you, Thomas Jefferson).
To be sure, American history is full of examples where leaders tried to do better. Congress has passed multiple voting rights acts and civil rights acts. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court weakened or found unconstitutional each and every one. You may only be aware of the time in 2013 when they gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but I promise you, throughout American history, they have been busy. It would not have been possible for many of the forty-seven states currently trying to suppress minority votes to do so except for the actions of the Supreme Court.
People comment on the articles I write. Some thanking me for enlightening them to facts they were unaware of. Some called me racist for writing about race and bringing up what they prefer to be forgotten. One reader suggested that it must be hard on my psyche, depressing even to spend so much of my time dealing with so much negativity. I reflected on his comment and realized that I don’t feel bad when researching and writing on the topics I do. I don’t feel bad because I have a purpose in what I do; to learn and educate others. Hopefully, to dispel myths and make a change? When the world surrounds you with negativity, it’s incumbent on you to find your own joy. It’s how I can write about the systemic, forcible rape of enslaved women and come out with a heart not full of rage and hatred.
Several years ago, my son and I, who were avid Tiger Woods fans, watched the Ryder Cup, where the best American golfers competed against the best from Europe. It’s a two-day event, and the Americans took a shellacking on the first day, needing to win almost every match of Day Two to win the event. I told my son it was over, and he asked me, “Where’s your positivity?” The second day the American team did come back against seemingly insurmountable odds to win. I’ve never forgotten the lesson my son taught me about positivity and tried to maintain it in all that I do.
It would be easy to get overwhelmed at the state of the world right now. America is still conflicted about race, one hundred fifty-six years after the Civil War ended. It is becoming more acceptable to be racist in some circles and attempts to suppress minority votes take place in forty-seven states. A pandemic is encompassing the globe, with almost 3.5 million dead from the disease. The Mideast is in turmoil, with Hamas firing missiles indiscriminately and Israel conducting massive airstrikes with little regard for innocent lives. The United Nations reports over 34 million people are facing food insecurity. Every hurricane season causes devastating destruction. America is over-policing minority communities while under-providing healthcare. A Black person can get killed while jogging, sleeping, backing out of a driveway, selling a loosie cigarette, or trying to pass a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Unemployment is high, and the disparity in wages for minorities is higher. If you want something to be distressed about, there are hundreds of choices, so how does one remain positive?
Everyone has a skill set. Remaining positive requires it to be put to use. Positivity is not passive but requires action. If your concern is the environment, help pick up trash on the beach or at the park. If world hunger disturbs you, aid your local food bank or make contributions to worthy charitable organizations. Solving systemic injustice won’t be easy, but get involved in the struggle. Vote anyone out of an office that seeks to deprive anyone eligible of their right to vote. Use your voice and make sure it’s heard, whether that be by peaceful protest, writing letters, or using your previously mentioned vote. Being part of the solution will allow you to feel better during the process.
Lastly, find joy by focusing on the relationships in your life. Put some of the energy currently spent on hateration into showing appreciation for your loved ones. I’m blessed enough to have wonderful children, grandchildren, a great-grandchild I look forward to meeting, and a fiancee who provides me much happiness. I have longtime friends who remind me of what we’ve been through and the blessings we’ve received. I would encourage anyone to fight your battles but never lose sight of those right in front of you. If your world is without joy, perhaps you’re looking in the wrong places.
This post was previously published on Age of Awareness.
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