Stepping out from behind the shield

This journey of mine, my search for God’s face has been redemptive, forcing me to hurtle headlong into the confines of my faults and contradictions with the expectation that I will exit from the other side – unburdened, fortified and ready to do what has been mandated for me.

It has been said that it gets more difficult as you come closer to the shores of victory, but being cognizant of this fact ensures that I won’t drown in those shallow waters.

My faith in humanity has been shaken on a number of occasions, but I am comforted in the realization that this is the lot of humanity – its consistent inconsistency.

Over the course of the past year I have been attacked by forces beyond the realm of my comprehension that have left me tumbling in the wake of death, loss, disillusionment and the putrid stench of man’s inhumanity towards man.

I wrote a missive last month about the police being called – on myself and 2 of my colleagues, the person who made the call had an assumption that we were attacking our female compatriot.

3 people in business attire talking, outside of a car, in a business district was interpreted as threatening.

On the surface this would seem to be nothing short of bewildering, but my life experiences paint a far darker picture. I learned early on that my skin, my hue (not my demeanor) – but my very presence has been construed at different times of my life as a threat, an unwanted visage of sorts.

The pain of having the carefree days of childhood innocence interrupted by the subtle, sometimes blatant countenance of racism, bigotry & intolerance has faded with time, as my adaptions have allowed me to survive and in many cases, thrive.

However, there is place in my psyche that serves a proverbial bookmark and I recall the event as if it were yesterday, my best friend in the 1st grade was a boy named Richard who was of Chinese ancestry, there was a hullabaloo in class about his upcoming birthday and many of our classmates had invitations to the party.

Puzzled about why I hadn’t received an invitation, I asked him about it and he informed me that I wouldn’t be able to come because his parents “didn’t like Black people”, there was a stunned silence of sorts on my part as I was powerless to respond and I continued on, not bothering to ask why. In retrospect, it was moments like this that lead to the enveloping of myself in the “shield” to protect my sanity and my sense of self.

This shield that I’m alluding to is a mechanism that allows me to be reflective and nonplussed when confronted by all of the incarnations of ugliness that is commonplace on this planet, allowing my head and spirit to always be held aloft.

Why is a shield required?

Is this merely wordplay?

I only wish this was the case.

During my time as a young man and even now, there is this “otherness” that defines being Black that is laughable in its ridiculousness – this idea of Blackness or being Black means being part and parcel of this mysterious, yet exotic monolithic group, when nothing could be further from the truth in many instances.

But – there is a common denominator that echoes, loudly.

The cost of being Black in America comes at a steep cost.

This truth does not anger or cause me any sadness, as those emotions faded from the horizon long ago – but less than a week ago something endeavored to break the “shield” that had served me with efficiency for more than 35 years – sending me back to that cauldron of feelings, on that fateful afternoon when I was declined an invitation to Richard’s birthday party.

Fast forwarding 35 some odd years later.

When my son left for college in the Fall it was a bittersweet realization of the fact that everything that my wife and I had prepared him for was going to be put to the test, we would have to contend with tendering the gift that we received from the Almighty and effectively handing him over to the world.

I was confident that this young man of mine would dispatch of anything that came his way with the maturity that always left me awestruck.

When…

I got a call from my son in late November, his voice was loaded with an apprehension that immediately caused me to tense up.

“Dad, I was walking back to my dorm room after class and the guys across the hall have their door draped in a confederate flag!

image

Somehow I was able to stammer out… “What?”

“Dad, I’m gonna rip it down.”

“Don’t… Leave it there!”

We went back and forth on the phone for seemed like and I was able to convince him to leave this vile piece of cloth hanging where it was. I had him send me a picture and when it flashed across my phone, I seethed and bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t able to protect my son.

I double checked the date and I confirmed that it was 2016, but strangely enough my son was seemingly forced to fight the Civil War again, ironic considering that I had discovered earlier that year that our ancestor, had fought in the Union Army in 1865 against this flag that many proclaim is reflective of “heritage”.

The actions of the University were lukewarm at best – my entreaties to the Director of Student Conduct were addressed via email with a declaration that “the situation has been resolved”. Once again my son’s maturity assuaged my concerns as he told me that he couldn’t be bothered because he had a degree to earn so I tucked this incident away under the file of “this is the South”.

When… A couple months later.

My “shield” went offline during the last week of February – and I was left at the mercy of this ugly world, unprotected.

He sent me another picture and I sat there dumbfounded, wrestling with a host of emotions. Words escaped me, anger governed me and I debated the efficacy of facing ugly with ugly.

It was a threat of violence tendered towards a sizable population of the student body scrawled on the door of the room (I’ve since removed the picture due to the inflammatory nature), but the tone of message is described as “hate speech”.

Hate can’t be met with a hopeful dialogue only, inclusion is the cousin of healing, but the iron fist of discipline must be wielded and repercussions must be felt.

In effect it was the inaction by the administration that emboldened the individuals to take their actions to another level – that being said the institution is as complicit in the act as the parents of these young people.

Am I expected to stay silent and allow platitudes to take the place of justice?

My search for God’s face tells me, I cannot.

And – I shiver, as it is cold out in this ugly world, realizing that my shield is still offline.

If you read this missive in its entirety, don’t say sorry and don’t bemoan the ignorance that seems to have an immortality complex.

But –

I encourage you to be better, to be empowered enough to be contagious and push back at the confines of what my shield always protected me against.

Be infectious.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 ShunPwrites. All Rights Reserved

21 thoughts on “Stepping out from behind the shield

  1. Seeing a confederate flag draped across the hall from your son’s room was bad enough, but I gasp at the next photo. That is beyond awful and seems to me as being very close to a hate crime and threat.

    I feel that something should be done to that university. With Donald Trump inciting racism, and exclusion and violence as he weaves his way across the country and the media gives him much more coverage than the other candidates, it seems like racism is becoming even more acceptable in the eyes of many people….if that is even possible.

    Have you tried writing letters to the editor of the paper there or contacting local government? A flag is one thing but to make that call to violence statement is quite dangerous and disturbing.

    Like

      1. Sounds like it. I would hope those kids are going to be extremely punished or expelled. There should be expulsion go something like that. But again, we have a media championing Trump and his extreme racism as the next President.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The school should be doing something about this. It makes me sick because it is a hate crime. I feel like if it said something about homosexuality it would be taken more serious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The fact that you are writing about this is bringing awareness. People need to know this isn’t over. I’m simply underwhelmed by humanity on more occasions than I can count. Thanks for sharing this. It’s important that people know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Empower and Balance and commented:
    I wanted to share this very sad but powerful post by the author of this lovely blog I follow.

    I don’t normally post political posts on this blog but I could not let this blog post go unnoticed by others.

    My readers will remember that I’ve been an activist all my life and even more so as an adult. Even as I child, it broke my heart to see migrant worker’s children treated so badly by other children in school. I watched racial issues divide students in my schools. Since I’ve always been very spiritual as well, I just never understood this need to separate from others, treat others poorly, feel I was better than someone else. It just makes no sense to me.

    It is horrible that this young student written about in this post, had to withstand these hate crimes in his school and even worse that the administration did nothing. I feel that Donald Trump and his reality show imagined run for presidency, with all his blustery bullying belligerent and demeaning rhetoric and racism is making things even worse in this country. The fact that the media eats is up and even acknowledges that they give him more press than any other candidate as his violent show biz style sells more news is even worse.

    It is time for the shift into the light and it is time NOW! It is time for all of us to realize we are ONE, divine, created to live in light and love, supporting each other and this beautiful planet.

    I am so ready….for this darkness to be over and for humanity to shine!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. For the love of God. This is the kind of thing that happened when I was your son’s age. I can only hope that those fools that did all of this someday look back in shame. I pray that your son knows this is a minority of people who think this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donald,

      As much as the eternal optimist in me would like to believe that – I am doubtful. The actions of these individuals speaks volumes. I’m inclined to that they are reveling in the dissension that they have wrought.

      But –

      As you reap, you will sow.

      Like

  6. BTW….thanks for following my “walk with me” blog. I think you already follow my empowerandbalance.wordpress.com blog. I am enjoying your blog and did post this post on FB and my empower and balance blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mr. Weaver, I commend you for you outreach, as it is admirable – you could have elected to stand on the sideline, but you opted for engagement.

    You alluded to me being a man of God and an intellect… I lay no claim to either title other than my search for God’s face is the only call to wisdom that I can acknowledge.

    Disclaimer: I am a student of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period of American history as it represented a squandered opportunity to live up the ideals elucidated in the Constitution.

    Allow me to address some of the points that you’ve alluded to, perhaps this can serve as instructive. Long ago, when I was your age, I had this gritty assurance that I had everything figured out, but the passage of time has shown that to a fictitious flight of fancy.

    The flag:

    If you recall, this flag was in the limelight in lieu of the events that took place on June 17, 2015, when 9 people were assassinated in a house of worship. The perpetrator was a self-described white supremacist and in many of the pictures procured from social media and his flash drive, this flag was a focal point in many of them.
    As you mentioned, this flag was not the official symbol of the Confederacy, but it did come to be associated with the Confederacy after the conclusion of the war – where history clearly documents that the South was not the victor.

    This flag made a resurgence of sorts in 1948 when the Dixecrat party embraced the flag as a symbol of resistance to the Democratic Party of the time, who adopted a Civil Rights platform. It was at this time that the flag became to be synonymous with segregation and antagonism towards people of color.

    Considering that this flag symbol is used as a symbol, a proverbial call to arms by a cornucopia of hate groups, your choice to display this flag on your door, in a public venue – can only be judged in that construct. There were more instructive ways that you could have engaged your peers, but I am curious and saddened that you opted not to explore any of them.

    I encourage you to do a google search for “Confederate flag during the Civil Rights Movement” and I challenge you to secure an image where this symbol was used to in your words:
    “to evoke critical thinking”

    You should be encouraged to embrace history, but you can’t choose which elements of that history to hold dear, which to ignore and those that you wish to plead ignorance to – you are in academic environment and you should endeavor to be better than that. If you are oblivious to the history that encompasses this flag then this speaks to a larger problem altogether.

    Consider the logic behind this… The officials of the now defunct Confederate States of America, took up arms against the United States.

    And –

    The US Constitution defines treason as levying war against the government and aiding and abetting its enemies. By that definition, every Confederate soldier in the Civil War—as well as every political leader—was a traitor.
    Given that the South lost the Civil War it is illogical to reconcile this fact with the old adage of:

    “History is told by the victors.”

    If so…

    Why are these figures honored?

    Why is there scant attention paid to the nearly 4 million people dehumanized and held in bondage at the outset of the conflict?

    Aren’t they heroic figures as well?
    Are they worthy of honor?

    Although there were a number of reasons for the American Civil War, but slavery stood as the predominate issue for succession. The Vice-President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens on March 21, 1861 referenced this as a pillar of the new government, during his now infamous “Cornerstone Address”, I encourage you to read this as well.

    Privilege –

    This isn’t a term tendered to make people feel guilty, that is the last emotion that you should contend with. However, if you harbor guilt perhaps it is indicative of a resistance to your being empowered by a realization that has escaped you up to this point.

    In short, what this term means is that you are afforded privileges in America that aren’t necessarily afforded to those of another skin color.
    Whether you acknowledge it or not, you do benefit from it – and you should consider it a duty to have an awareness of this fact. I would suggest that you read Peggy McIntosh’s piece: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”.

    However, what is offensive is the ignorance claimed, whether real or feigned that I would encourage you to rise above. Aspire to be better and not to shirk the responsibility to move beyond the confines of what you think that you know.

    If you are sincere in your outreach I encourage you to dig deeper for the truth that is implicit in searching God’s face and empathize with why a person of color might see this flag as offensive and even threatening.

    Look at the history and the legacy of this flag and you will find the answers to your questions bringing you to terms with the accusations that have been levied at you.

    Be empowered to do what is hard and “evoke critical thinking”.

    Like

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