Why is it that it seems to take a tragedy for people to unite? There is solidarity for a bit before everyone goes their separate ways, past tragedies are forgotten or little thought of until the next tragedy comes along.
I was quite young when I first witnessed such a thing. It was quite small to future tragedies standards, but it opened my eyes a bit on how humanity responds to situations. So many too late to save a life.
There was an intersection that I crossed many times heading to school that many spoke up about as the area became more populated.
“Everyone thinks a light should be put in the intersection of Floyd street and 38th,” my father said one day, putting the paper down. “There have been some minor accidents there.”
“You be careful, Henry,” my mother told me.
I always followed the rules given me when it comes to crossing the street so never had any issues.
It was a week later that the tragedy took place. Someone ran the stop sign and was t-boned. People were upset immediately when a life was taken. What made it worse is that it was a young girl around my age that was killed. The town united, and eventually a four way stop was put in. Not exactly what people wanted, but it seemed to curb the accidents to a minimum. Too late for the victim.
I lived in a small town, which for the most part was full of white people. A few African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans lived on the west side of town. Close to the city further west that was more multi-colored.
“And tends to have more crime,” my father liked to remind us every so often.
First years of my life I didn’t have thoughts of racism, and no ill will toward anyone of color. I have white skin, you have brown skin. Fine with me, and we move on. I figure we are all from the same Maker so nothing wrong with the situation.
As I grew older I became more aware of my surroundings, and saw more hate that made me want to go back to my child-like state.
“Why are we fighting over our skin color?” I pondered many times.
I believed many people asked the same question, but I was to find out there were a few out there that want to keep a wedge between the colors.
As I went into middle school and into high school I started to hear more and more of racist talk between white students. Many of the comments were ignorant, and very little thought is put behind the words. The problem is that I eventually was sucked into their talk just because I wanted to be liked, and part of the conversation even though I knew little of other colors, living in a small town. Here we were talking nonsense that was creating divisiveness instead of unity.
When I started to go to the city it didn’t take me long to see and hear how divisive society was. For the most part every group of people of color stayed apart. I saw small groups that had one or two of a different color together ever so often. The places I went to for the most part were crowded with white people. It was only when we walked the streets that we mingled. Ever so often I would hear an insult thrown at another due to their skin color.
“I don’t get it,” I thought.
It was so easy to get caught up in racism just to be one with the crowd, but as I sat at home in the quiet of my room where I could think clearly I pondered how ridiculous this all was.
“If we only had solidarity we can accomplish so much to better society. But until then we will never evolve.”
I was nearing my final days in school when the riots took place. I paid attention to the news a little more often, I heard plenty from my father. It was out that a couple of white cops beat a black, young adult nearly to death. Even when the man lay on the ground motionless they kept on beating him.
“I wonder what he did to deserve such a beating?” my father asked.
“No one deserves a beating like that,” my mother commented.
“Seems excessive to me,” I said.
It was not long afterwards that the protests took place. I watched as large crowds walked the streets. It didn’t take long until riots took place, and destruction to buildings.
“What is the point of destroying property of innocence?” I thought.
To get their point across better? Peaceful marches just don't do it.
I eventually turned everything off to get away from it all. I know I would never understand what ones of color have to deal with, but wondered how destruction would unite. The talk of the corrupt cops quickly turned to the thugs on the streets.
“Will there ever be solidarity?” I asked.
Graduation came, and also the end of the protests.
I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do when I left school so decided to go into the military. I was never interested in going into the service, but hoped it would jump start my career. I would quickly realize it would be an eye opener to working side by side with ones of all colors. I became friends with some, neutral with others, and despised others. None of it had anything to do with color. It all had to do with personality. The ones who tried to create divisiveness, I stayed away. In the military there was no time to deal with ones who wanted to spread hate. In my small town the hate was put out by ones of white colored skin, but in the military I heard it come out of all colored skin mouths. By hearing some of their stories I don’t blame the hate, but I wished people didn’t blame all just because of a few bad apples.
Soon, my days in the military came to an end. I wasn’t interested in staying in, figuring I will use my funds to go to college. That was short-lived for a war broke out keeping me in the military.
In a war there is complete solidarity or there is death. We worked as a well oiled machine to defeat the enemy. Skin color is obsolete as we all do our utmost to keep each other alive. In a war there are countless examples of a society working together to be a success. The many letters from home told me that it was similar at home. Everyone worked together to support the troops. Life was going the right direction in many ways. Just sad that it took lives for it to be done.
Luckily, it was not a long war, and I got out with very few scars. More internal scars than external ones.
“I have matured in so many ways,” I thought.
My first years of life were spent in separation of other colors, but after my military service it has all changed.
I now strive toward solidarity. I stayed away from people and organizations that talked of solidarity, but truly for the opposite. Anything to keep their wallets full on the misery of the populace. It is like taking baby steps, but I pray we move forward and unite. I just hope my children will see better days. Hope of solidarity.