Special Guest Post by Contributing Writer, Nikki Williams-Rucker
Every day we are inundated with images of where our world has gone and we are left with questions of how did we get here and what can we do to change our course. The unfortunate thing is...this is not the first time we, Americans, have been faced with racism, bigotry and pure hatred and disdain for one another. We have seen this same barrage of images before. However, unlike any other time in history, technology has made it almost impossible to escape the world wide terror that is erupting around the country. In order for us to traverse these rough waters ahead and come out with our sanity, there are a few things we MUST do:
Educate Yourself- Unless you know and understand your rights and responsibilities as American citizens; you will not be aware when those rights are being taken away and when those responsibilities get challenged. As hard as it is to watch the news and understand the laws and mandates being adopted by the current administration, it is imperative to your survival. Staying informed right now has to be our number one priority. With one swipe of his uneasy pen, number 45, our healthcare, jobs, financial security, right to vote and even our freedom can be taken away. Do your own research and look into the things the media is siphoning our way. Now is not the time to use the saying “ignorance is bliss”...ignorance right now especially can lead to death. Plus, those of us who are parents have to educate ourselves so we can help our children sift through those tough questions in their minds about what is happening in the world around them. They need us now more than ever and we have to arm them with the truth.
Refuse to Live in Fear- If you are like me, you might find yourself looking over your shoulder a little bit more. People who make quick movements or gestures might cause you to reach for your nearest weapon and assume a defensive posture. Fear causes us to make poor judgment calls and allows our emotions to take control. We have to believe and know that “this too shall pass”. By arming ourselves with the truth and staying abreast of what is happening and the true root causes, we can live in peace. Historically, African American people have made it through some of the toughest atrocities known to man. While it may not have always been easy, it is due to their refusal to live in slavery, that thousands of slaves made their daring escape on the Underground Railroad. They did not allow fear to paralyze them but used it to be the catalyst which propelled them to a better life. We have to call on the spirit of our ancestors and keep moving in the face of fear and find our inner peace.
Lean into Your Faith- Whether you believe in God or not, now is the time to hold on to or find your faith. God foresaw this nonsense happening way before it happened and if you believe like I believe, we know how this story is going to end. WE WIN! Our faith is the only thing that is going to get us through the nights when we are crying ourselves to sleep in sheer disbelief that as a nation we have truly reverted back to a time, many of us only read in history books. Prayer truly does change things and our faith is being tested like never before. Find a group of believers to start a prayer texting line, phone a friend and just pray for peace in our world, discernment on behalf of our current administration and above all else personal peace of mind. Iron truly does sharpen iron.
Check On Your Circle- You are not the only one who is having a hard time right now. Even if they seem to have it all together, your girls are having just as tough a time as you are. Self-care is important, yes, but so is checking on your sister circle to provide them with a safe space to decompress. When the business of the day wears down, kids are gone to bed, favorite television shows have gone off, and everyone is left with the same sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach. The possibility of nuclear war and the racism and violence that is currently running rampant in this country leaves us with a ground that can feel unsound. Imagine how those of us who are lucky enough to still have elders among us still walking the earth are feeling right now to see the times they thought were behind them, coming right back to the headlines. They must be scared to death. We have to do a temperature check with one another and send an encouraging word. Let them know in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “We Gon’ Be Alright”.
Don’t Assume- As a people; our side eye game is really strong when it comes to white people in general. Everyone from the postman to the checkout woman at the grocery store is about 2.2 seconds from getting unloaded on if they so much as look at us the wrong way. The woman killed in Charlottesville, VA was as Caucasian as they come and she gave her life fighting against racism and violence. We cannot paint all white people with the same brush and assume because of the color of their skin that they agree with the racist rhetoric being spouted by the white supremacist and alt-right hate groups. Making that assumption is doing the same thing racist people do when they assume all black people are like the handful of fools they see in rap videos and on reality television. Judge each person by their actions and allow those who are willing to fight alongside us to change the course we are going in, to get their hands dirty like we are. There truly is power in numbers, regardless of the color.
Communicate- Today I went from being pissed off at the world too afraid for my children to go to school in the predominantly white school districts they both attend. I wondered what might be said to them or if people will “try” them. I even found myself giving my own students a second look when I noticed them looking in my direction. I walked around all day with a head full of chatter which finally ended in a massive migraine. I realized I had not truly allowed myself to feel what I felt; I simply allowed denial and fear to creep in. Not only did I deny myself the right to acknowledge and work through those feelings, when asked how I was feeling, I did not communicate those feelings to anyone else. There was no dumping ground. No work station for my emotions, thoughts or feelings. We have to allow ourselves to sit with what we are taking in and then communicate those thoughts and images with someone else. Engaging in constructive dialogue right now is going to help us decipher what is happening and even brainstorm solutions. This is not the time to shoulder what we are going through and whip out our superwoman shirts. Be real, ask for help, and take a time out if you need it but don’t stop talking.
Resist- The one thing I believe made slavery such an easy thing to happen is that they made us believe we were helpless and had no other choice. Be clear, there are things we can do. While marching, praying and chanting are all good things to do, we have to put our boots on the ground and fight back. By educating ourselves on the people we are up against we can find their power source and destroy it. While we all love shopping on Amazon and running through the drive through at Chick Fil A, at some point we have to refuse to keep supporting institutions and companies that support our demise and start putting those resources into our own communities. In Atlanta, there is ONE black owned gas station. For many people, they would have to pass several other gas stations to get to it. Imagine if all of the black people within a 50-mile radius refused to patronize any other gas station but that one? The message that would send to not only the community but to the big oil companies that we can and will support our own. If our grandmother and grandfathers could walk miles to work during the Montgomery bus boycott, you mean to tell me, we can’t drive a few extra feet to support our own? It will take all of us to ban together to truly send a message that we are not going to take this, not even lying down.
Unplug- At the end of the day, we are all humans and can get overwhelmed. A revolution can be tiring and pull on you physically, spiritually and emotionally; we all need to take some time to turn off the phones, television and social media and just decompress. Self-care is often a much-overused word but right now it is critical. When you find yourself getting to the point where the current state of affairs is consuming you, you are no good to anyone. Mental health is nothing to play with and we are going to all need to be mentally sound if we are going to win this war. Take some time to unplug, go see a funny movie, take a vacation, learn how to tango, go for a walk or take a detox bath. When you are ready and feel rejuvenated, put on your boots and get back to your post because we can’t do this without you.