On July 15, 2015, I wrote a column titled “Wrapped Up” about removing the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse. On July 15, 2016, I wrote a column titled “Sew it up,” briefly mentioning that the Confederate flag had gone back up for a few days, despite numerous pleas from many South Carolina citizens against it.
I wrote both of these columns because of a systemic failure in this country to address problems of racism, democratic participation, and continuing social injustices. We are now in July 2020 and I find myself writing about the same subject, but this time from a much different perspective. This time, the tables are turning.
The red flags have been waving in front of all of our black and white faces for decades and the majority of Americans choose to remain complacent – as long as their place in this world doesn’t change, they don’t care. Selfishness has completely taken over. We saw a glimpse of this when the toilet paper shelves were empty. COVID-19 has not only exposed our weaknesses in a pandemic but our weakness in humanity.
Being an educator, I am not going to write about a problem without giving a solution.
About 12 weeks ago, I started a podcast – SMILEcast. Each week, I interview a different person with a unique story or something they feel needs to be shared. This past week, I interviewed a dear friend of mine, Katrina Lemons. She is a leader in public education, a mentor and a friend with a different color of skin than mine. She is black. I am white. We talked openly about the racial tension in America. The smallest questions were easily answered with such simplicity. Appropriately titled, “Black, White and Gray,” we discussed the invisible gray area in the ongoing struggle in America. Picture a small area of gray carpet where we could all come sit together to have a conversation without bias. I have news for everyone – if we do not start communicating our frustrations, concerns, hopes and dreams, they will be left for interpretation; we will be at the mercy of those who do not use words to solve their problems. Aggression comes from unspoken frustrations. We need to sit and listen to one another.
Too often, society has a way of intimidating us into silence. Most individuals feel it is best to be quiet, so it will all go away. I wish, when I had written “Wrapped Up” in 2015, that I would have continued the conversation. Maybe before people became “Fed Up,” something as modest as talking with a friend could have started more dialogue for change. Don’t be afraid to talk about things that make you feel uncomfortable, for only in this moment can we find the answers to improve the lives of all people.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people but the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Waxahachie resident Theo Acker is an educator, podcast host, public speaker and guest columnist for the Waxahachie Sun. Catch her podcast, SMILEcast, on Anchor and Spotify (soon to be available on Apple Podcasts and others. Find her on Twitter at @TheoAcker and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theo.acker.5.