We continue to solicit entries for our work-in-progress anthology, Essential Americans: the Stories that can no longer be Ignored. To date, our entries have been both poignant and diverse, and this one by my good friend Kristine Grant is no exception. Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter– becomes topics for debate and derision, and our anthology is our attempt to foster dialog.
What Really Matters?
by Kristine Grant
I believe in peace and harmony regardless of race, color, or creed for all of mankind. My personal life experiences have included an excessive amount of personal terror, abuse, emotional trials, and tribulations…. At any rate my experiences involved very disturbed perpetrators who happened to include pacific islanders, white, black, rich, poor, male and female attackers. Despite the awful encounters with these troubled souls, I have survived all of it and have enjoyed so much in my life. I contend that my health and well-being is largely due to the fact that fortunately, I never carried resentment, anger, or hatred for those that condemned or terrorized me.
Years ago, I resided in South Central Los Angeles for approximately five years. My older brother, Bob, fell in love with the neighborhood that was filled with enchanting turn-of-the-century Craftsman style homes, bungalows, and Victorian houses. At one point my brother received a citizen’s service award from Mayor Tom Bradley (mayor of Los Angeles), for his contributions such as restoring and increasing the beautification as well as promoting economic growth and awareness for a more thriving neighborhood through home renovations, planting 100 trees, and enhancing community awareness.
Bob invited me and my sister to also live in the same neighborhood. South Central Los Angeles still remains a predominately Black neighborhood. My sister, Phyllis, was actually an ER nurse at a local hospital. She happened to be the only White nurse. I lived with my brother for about 4 years, before moving to another home in the same neighborhood with my dear friend, Jackie, who was African-American. Phyllis invested in the neighborhood by purchasing her own home as well. When we look back upon those years, it is more than interesting to note just how we were treated for the most part. Honestly, many neighbors criticized us, accused us of bringing more problems into the neighborhood, were rude and condescending … and well, there was a great deal of scare at times; as well as crime and violence that occurred. However, there was also a sense of hope, community, connection and fun. And friendships were formed. Unfortunately, my brother, Bob, passed away … his funeral procession was no less than 1.5 miles long. He was loved and appreciated by so many. And it was a blessing to know that he was spared having to witness the horrible violence and destruction that followed the Rodney King incident which occurred after my brother’s passing.
Prior to that, I was enlisted in the US Army and during my term while stationed in Germany, I lived in a multi-racial community on base. In fact, one time, I was the only white woman amidst an all-black female company in our battalion. There are so many stories to tell. I gleaned so much insight from being on the inside looking out of racial discrimination. Yet, in retrospect, this was indeed a Godsend. My stories regarding that chapter in my life were challenging at times, yet, ultimately a sort of initiation for my life purpose.
I’d like to touch in with you and perhaps look beneath the chaos regarding our current precarious social challenges and the sort of tragic horror surround the current “Black Lives Matter” movement. The BLM protestors are taking a stand to honor Black lives. Most if not all would agree that yes, historically, Black Americans have certainly been oppressed and denied many privileges reserved for White citizens and that there were so many mortal sins enacted toward the Black race since the earlier origins of America. Even before that, bigotry towards Blacks was evidenced in Great Britain and other countries including inter-tribal oppression in Africa itself. While many Black people still continue to experience victimization surrounding racism, many others remain wounded in various ways. Unfortunately, there is a faction in our world that persistently maintain covert and/or blatant nihilistic attitudes toward one another that have plagued our culture and social harmony.
Yes, America was birthed with the motto, “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”… However, was that true for Native Americans, Negro Slaves, or later on, Chinese Railroad Workers? Regardless of race or nationality, many of us grew up with certain negative attitudes or slurs that were passed down from our parents or people we knew against many other ethnic cultures. Derogatory or awful slang terms were commonly used to identify most anyone from a different race or ethnicity. This does not include other groups subject to discrimination due to one’s age, gender, gender-preference or sexual identity, faith, or religion. The list goes on. With all of this division, just what is the root cause of so much bullying? In my humble opinion, and after studying and lecturing about relational aggression and anti-bullying over many years, I must emphatically say: FEAR is the underlying emotion at the root of all of this “man’s inhumanity to man” ongoing experience. Yet, I continue to wonder what underlies the resultant fear… what other shadow are we unaware of?
Yes, we certainly do live in interesting times. There is absolutely no excuse for unwarranted police brutality. My dad was a police officer and I know he was a kind man. It hurts to hear that some people consider all police officers to be sadistic brutes. Yet, I feel that improved policies, such as vetting new cadets and other reforms for training police officers and safety-awareness interventions should be considered and addressed.
I am not Black. While my observations may be interesting, I hope to inspire more open conversations without so much defensiveness, in order for everyone to begin to understand life is not simply black and white. While there is contrast in our world, there are various human experiences, notions and perspectives to be realized and solved or healed.
Where do we go from here? It seems pretty obvious to me and it has been said, “Insanity is when you continue to do the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.” Obviously the current unbridled anarchy occurring throughout our country or even the world, is cause for deep concern. It starts with awareness and accountability. I advocate that we learn to embrace one another, appreciate our differences, and simply agree to accept ourselves regardless of color, creed, gender, age, or interest. Humanity Matters!
What would society be like if everyone cherished one another no matter what? If you do not agree that our souls or our essence is always connected, and that is where we can ultimately relate to one another, then I am sad for our world. You see, discrimination, racism, anger, disgust, resentment or evil is all birthed from fear. Perhaps there are certain agendas in the back ground such as financial greed, political power, or whatever other power-plays that stir the pot and fuels the fear factor.
While peaceful protests give voice for a cause to influence others to join their perspective, personally, I advocate that a bigger voice should be given in support of All Humanity. I am in favor of demonstrations to heighten our awareness. In particular, as long as we are demonstrating hope, care, kindness, charity, and compassion, forgiveness, trust, acceptance, and love we can evolve. I hope we all learn from this tragic episode we are currently experiencing. Sensational, horrific, and shocking news stories sell … yet what about reporting on random acts of courage, kindness, or merits? Shouldn’t positive news get equal billing? I hope we can focus on a better sense of brotherhood, community, awareness, gratitude, and the ultimate concept… freedom with kindness toward one another.
I realize, I am only one person with my experiences… Others may have a very different perspective pursuant to their life story. Most importantly, sharing your own experience is potent and one we can learn and heal from. Through our sharing, without animus, we can hopefully find a common ground. Yes, let’s consider staying open and less disconnected from one another. What if we could actually celebrate our differences and heal from the past? Know that those who appear aggressive and hurtful, are those stuck in pain and out of alignment… they are lost. Those who perpetrate malice upon one another are the most deprived, separated, and unfulfilled. My prayer is for a deeper wisdom to occur, and that we do move from the shadow to the light as quickly as possible. Can we consider what our nation or our world would be like if only we could all honor ourselves, all life, and love one another?
I hope to stay in touch. My website: www.kristinegrant.com Please check out my recent book: RELATIONSHIFT – How to Write the Words You Really Want to Say, on Amazon by Kristine Grant
(Editor-in-Chief here: Click the link to check out Kristine’s book, which I had the pleasure of assisting her with. )