2020 has been a whirlwind of experiences. So many developments. We had COVID, lost Kobe Bryant, witnessed wildfires in Australia, a bunch of locusts decided to wreck things in parts of India and more than anything, the world took a dramatic turn when the killing of George Floyd gave rise to social unrest. This social unrest, long overdue, swept the United States in late May and early June. The cause for this? On 25th of May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man, was killed in Minneapolis, during an arrest for allegedly using counterfeit bills.
This death caused an immense outrage. All 4 police officers were convicted for second-degree murder charges. The protests, out of which was born #BlackLivesMatter — a symbol today for anti-racism, humanity and equality. This happened all over the world.
Everyone knows the history, the incidents and the causes for racism. But, at the end of it, even as 21st century citizens, we see racism all over the world. In every nation, people of color receive discrimination, partiality and a demeaning torture. Whether it is in a field of education, profession, or simple day-to-day life; people of color are looked at suspiciously and downgraded unnecessarily. White supremacy is not a right — it is not granted by anyone and not claim-able by anyone. God made us all; then why do we decide who gets what?
Cultural tolerance is a phrase that is constantly taken from place to place; the tolerance for someone of color, of a different race, from a difference place. There is no reason to label someone and then to blame them for things that aren’t their doing. Out in public, why should a black man be given death stares and a white man can go along his business without any hassles? God, who we pray to every day, made every human being that walks this planet. Whether white, brown, black — the color should not matter. Hate crime is not something we should show our children; we are all made of love, with love, for love. There should be no place for hate. It just takes up the space where peace should be. Gratitude for a multitude of cultural experiences is a better way to look at this.
Global peace is something that we, as human beings, the walkers of this planet, are far from achieving. Progressive thoughts, rich fulfillment, wealth, love, respect means nothing if our minds still distinguish based on color. A pre-judgement based on color is not warranted. How do we know what a person will do, by just looking at their skin color? If this school of thought continues from generation to generation, what culture fronts are we looking at? Why target someone when we know nothing of them? Nothing about the music they bring to this world, the culinary expertise they bring, or the skills they bring?
If it is difficult for you to imagine why I say equality is important, or if you aren’t angry enough that there is a concept of ‘supremacy’ with regard to color, try this. I am an avid reader. I began reading and found that John Grisham was my favorite author. A favorite from his writing is ‘A Time to Kill’ — also a blockbuster movie starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey. Set in Mississippi, a 10-year old African-American girl walks home from a grocery shop and is kidnapped and brutally raped and tortured by two local white (drunk) men. An angered father shoots them to death right before their trial, and is put in the box for it. All throughout the movie, there is no allowance at his trial to explain why he did what he did. All they cared about was ‘you killed two white men and you deserve the gas chamber for it’. Do you know what worked in the end? It was a story narrated by his lawyer, Jake, about a girl that went through the same ordeal that the little girl in question did. Only difference? He asked the jury to imagine that she’s white. That freed the man immediately.
Why is it that we must be asked to imagine ourselves in a situation and then take a step? It’s simple. Would we tolerate such behavior for ourselves or one of our own? No. Absolutely not. Then how can we assume that we are allowed to treat others that way?
We are dealing with a global pandemic — a virus that is taking lives. We should not have time to judge someone. There is progression in every facet of our lives, then why not this one? We, in every country, in every state, are born out of love. We are born to succeed, to make this world a better place to live. Why not focus on that? Cultures are like a rainbow. The more there is, the brighter our lives — music, food, traditions, happiness — there is a vibrant way to look at each of them.
We do not need lethal behavior in a world that is already crumbling. What we need, is love, compassion, and a call for change. Change that makes life easier for a common bystander, regardless of his or her color. An antidote for the stress, fear and uncertainty we or they feel. Justice is for everyone; just the way life is for everyone. No one deserves to be shamed for being what they are — whether it is on a stand, in a grocery store or simply on a street. Every time you decide to question someone else, try and put yourself in those shoes. Would you like to be questioned ‘unnecessarily’?
Toni Morrison, a well-known novelist and essayist said, ‘There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race — scientifically, anthropologically.’
None of us have the right to judge someone before we have walked a mile or two in their shoes. Take the time to get to know someone, to experience the things they experience, to understand why they are the way they are. Only then must you decide whether this is a person you would like to have in your life or not. Judgement is not a right and it surely isn’t a privilege — we are all made the way God made us. We all deserve love and compassion.
Conversations are beautiful; they can be life-saving at some point. To find people that have so much information to exchange, is an opportunity for growth, not for hate. If we only spoke to and accepted people from our own community, how will we learn about everything else that the world has to offer? Ridicule is not something we should be proud of; it is something we should be ashamed of. If we learn and teach today, we have a chance at a better future for our children, and their children. Love is above all. Happiness is all that we need — to give and to receive.