The other day I thought about where I was in 2008, when Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. To say that the feelings of hope that washed over me then, and now we’re uplifting, would simply be an understatement. Hope was in the air for me personally and professionally then. Today I realized I was trying to recreate those feelings.
Hope was in the air for so many of us back then. We believed the world was changing with America’s first black President. And many of us believed that the America we loved, this land of so much opportunity, could hold even greater promise.
What many of us knew, especially those of us who had seen America break its contract with black America, time and time again, was that along with that hope, was this undercurrent of hate, festering and growing. The browning of America was becoming a real thing. Spanish was the fastest growing language in the world, surpassing English. And Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the country.
Fear was rising. Fear of the lost of power and identity. Fear of the lost of power and wealth. Fear, of the lost of control. Control, that had been taken for centuries from black and brown people. Control, that had been gained by violence on the Trail of Tears, Southern Plantations, Jim Crow, lunch counters, segregated water fountains, Indian Reservations, Border walls, deportations, and the caging of children.
Control, gained through poverty, drugs, lynching, fear.
As I thought about what President Obama’s election could have brought us, I realized what it had really brought us. It brought exactly what Dr. King wrote about in his final book, “Chaos or Community: Where Do We Go From Here?”
What Dr. King realized was that the choice was and is ours. We get to choose. In 2008, we were on the precipice of becoming the greatest nation to ever exist in all humanity. How? By rising above our fear and embracing the change that’s gonna come.
That change will come. That change did come. That change is here. And it had to show up kicking and screaming, announcing it’s arrival to the entire world. This photo of me, captured by a fellow photographer on a fashion shoot many years ago was for a layout about beauty in black and white, acceptance and dispelling myths.
Why is that important and what does it have to do with where do we go from here? Well your acceptance of the color of my skin is a powerful emotion and a powerful tell. The world has set arbitrary beauty standards that have defined the worth and value of people around the globe.
Our economies are based around this acceptance. Acceptance, and inclusion based upon skin color, light and dark, language, accents both foreign and domestic. These aribtary barriers to moving forward cannot be broken unless you can see pass these false narratives about acceptance and value.
Where do we go from here? I have a few suggestions, yet it will take all of us, in black and white, to move beyond the rhetoric, the hate, the pain, the circular dialogue to real concrete actions. For starters, no one’s skin color defines their worth or their value as a human being. Next, your right to vote or choose who leads or governs you, should be a right of birth, and not of any other arbitrary rule. This should be a human right.
And about that, “Thou Shall Not Kill“ commandment, perhaps it’s time we start enforcing that on both sides of the street.
And finally, let’s all recognize that corporate greed has gained us nothing. Our planet is dying, children are still going hungry everyday, substance abuse, mental health and other primary healthcare issues are devastating our communities, our economies, our humanity.
“Where Do We Go From Here?”
I for one, hope you will join me in choosing community. I hope inclusion doesn’t just become a fashion statement for individuals, governments, and businesses that they can capitalize on and make a profit from. Where do we go from here…I hope to real change across our globe.
“And That’s A Brilliant Glimpse of Insight!”