I want to preface that this post was started in January and am only now feeling like I should share it.
As it has happened all so familiarly over the past year or more, I have rarely been in the writing/posting mood at all. It almost seemed like it really wasn’t worth writing anything more than could be digested in convenient, bite-sized nuggets, which if any of you that have read my blog at all, is not me.
Lately, however, I have been feeling a bit more myself and really have had some experiences I would like to share. This is a bit of a hodge-podge of a couple posts that I blended into one stream of consciousness. Forgive me if it doesn’t make much sense but I think for me to be able to move forward and write the way I want to write about the things I want to write about, I need to tell about this experience first.
Earlier this year Last summer my wife and I visited Georgia (Alabama…mostly) to visit family. While we were there, we took the opportunity to make our way to Montgomery where we visited The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. It was an experience I will never forget. I’m sure that was the point. Never forget. Never repeat.
The Legacy Museum left me in tears as I slowly walked from one element to another within the walls of the old brick building it was held in. It all seemed so much more real that at any other time slavery or prejudice or racism had ever been talked about or mentioned in any media form that I had consumed before. It was all so overwhelming and sad that as people, we are capable of such terrible abuses. It is true. Such abuses still take place today I’m afraid. Largely in different ways but still happening.
As I wondered from one segment of the Museum to the next I felt shame and horror for what we were and are capable of doing to others of our own race…the Human Race. We all share the same needs; food, shelter, love. There are arguments for what we, each of us, really need to survive and there is probably some validity in them. I’m not here to debate what we all need, I’m simply stating that as a people we have taken so much from one another. I might add that the taking was almost exclusively one-sided. The stories that were told within the museum brought into clarity how the effects of our ancestors are impacting lives today. My heart broke again and again as I took in all the details I could handle until I couldn’t handle any more. Then I continued until I had managed to take it all in. I felt like it was the least I could do.
I encourage everyone to visit both of these sites for a truly moving experience. As a people I have great hope by the shear fortitude and force of will that those that have been so mightily abused have managed to move forward. No small task I am sure.
Both were unbelievably moving. At the former, I openly wept as the weight of injustice came crashing upon me. I was somber and angry at the latter for the stupidity that as humans we have the capacity for…just over the color of a persons skin. Dumb!
Visiting both places in Montgomery helped reinforce that I have experienced privilege. At first I didn’t want to believe that because my mom raised four kids largely by herself with no help from our father. We were poor, no denying that. We often didn’t have time with our mom or took vacations and ate very modest meals…but the thing we never had to worry about was being denied something because the color of our skin. Never were we afraid of the police. In fact as a youngster I wanted to be part of that community. I remember them passing out Blazer Basketball Cards. The patrol car would roll by and all us kids would cheer and run over in the hopes that we could get a card. That’s not an experience everyone growing up had.
Not that I couldn’t write volumes more on my thoughts and feelings on the matter, I am choosing to bring them into the forefront and let people decide for themselves how to move the conversation forward.
Additionally, while we were in Georgia, we did stop in at the world headquarters/birthplace of Coca-Cola. It was a touristy sort of thing to do, but since we were there… It was a bit over the top, but hey, it wasn’t all kitch(sp). Okay, so maybe it was but I will say that one of the cool things I found was at the end of the day, before we were making our way out of the place, we went through a room that allowed us to sample all manner of Coke products from around the world. Honestly, most were so strange to me, or in a few instances, disgusting, that I had to ask myself why and how. Guess I will never know the answers to those questions. No biggie. A few were pretty good, but for me, nothing compared to the taste of the real deal itself.
Wrapping this up, I wanted to give my thanks to a friend whom I haven’t seen or really spoke with in quite a while who has made his way back to my neck of the woods. Thanks for telling me that my writing mattered and that it helped people. Good to see you again.
Peace be with you!
More to come…