We all know life is not fair.
But saying that simple statement and actually living in its unfairness are two very different things.
It seems so unfair people of color face so many automatic difficulties solely for the color of their skin.
On the other hand, it also sometimes seems unfair that the rest of us are left with the responsibility of fixing the racism in our culture and government systems when we weren’t the ones who kidnapped, enslaved, exploited, raped, and murdered the ancestors of our black brothers and sisters. I have found myself thinking in the past, “but I’m not the one treating people of color wrong, I’m not a politician making laws, and I’m fairly certain from knowing pieces of our ancestral history that my ancestors probably weren’t even slave owners.”
Part of being human is being interconnected. As Americans, I think many of us like to believe we can do whatever we want with our lives and it predominantly only affects us. We seem quick to ignore how our actions not only affect those around us, but also generations who will come after us.
That’s the problem with racism. Even though we might not ourselves be racist or support racism, the generations who lived in our country before us either supported or allowed slavery to occur on a mass scale, and because this is the country we call home, we have inherited this terrible atrocity as part of our legacy.
Today there is still much unfair, wrong and even terrible treatment of people of color, but we know these problems are much deeper and older than our generation. They are an inheritance we have been given by those who called our nation home hundreds of years ago until today.
We have inherited the injustice, the brutality, and the torture of Africans who were brought to America against their will and often treated in the most inhuman ways imaginable.
We have inherited the fact that many of the ancestors of these slaves have not yet felt America is fully their country — even though their family may have been here generations before mine or yours.
We have inherited the generational hurt and pain of our brothers of sisters of color from their heritage of being treated less than.
We have inherited the segregation that people of color faced just a generation before us.
The centuries of terrible treatment of people of people of color, dating back to slavery, is not our fault. Some of us may be innocent in and of ourselves of how the past has so radically affected people of color in so many areas of their lives, but these are issues we have inherited, and they are now ours to deal with.
Still, despite this inheritance, we are responsible for how people of color are treated today because the problem still actively exists.
As we’ve seen in our country’s past, each generation can collectively choose how they will set things up for those who come after them.
What kind of legacy will we leave for our children and grandchildren? Or what kind of mess will we leave for them to clean up?
Our generation has the opportunity and the burden of dealing with the hurt and pain compounded by generations of racism. We know dealing with racism will be messy, hard, uncomfortable, and painful. But if we don’t deal with it now we will be guilty of sentencing another generation of people of color to suffer. We will also be passing down the burden of eventually stopping racism to those who come after us.
Let’s do our part to leave a legacy of justice and hope for the generations after us. Hopefully the hurt can stop with us.