I am writing this in hopes that someone in America will listen. I am an American of Afro-Caribbean French descent and I am scared. I am teacher who lives in Europe and every year my wife and I go home to see our daughters in college. This year I am afraid of getting on a plane. This is new for me because I am and Gulf War Vet who jumped out of planes for a living for 8 years in the 82nd Airborne. Planes don’t scare me. Getting off a plane does. I am now sure the America I will see when get off the plane this year. The media I watch is not just news from the US. The news I watch is news from the UK, from China, Africa, Turkey, Russia and many other countries. And the news is depressing. Not because of the violence that is throughout the world, but the violence that is growing from with my own country. The rest of the world sees it and talks about it daily. But I fear my own country does not see what it is becoming. I am feeling out of place in the country I fought for the more comfortable I feel within my own race. Race, a word the defines me as a color and not a person. A word that allows others to hate me because of it. I am not a political person. I am not a Democrat, or a republican, or an Independent, or anything else. I am an American. I do not take sides. As a history teacher I tell my students to do what is right over what is right for them. I have been wondering and worried that the US will never become us. I have been wondering if we are slipping into the forever us vs. them country. What is the fear so many fear? What is change so many are afraid to face? Why do others fear the path forward for the Black ‘race’ marks the retreat of the ‘white’ race? I have never sought vengeance for the past that America will never address, but I am labeled an animal because of it. Race. I have never hoped for the ‘white race’ to fall? I don’t want anyone to kneel or bow down before me (as one teacher told me I wanted from him). I just want to be able to stand up tall for who I am. I am an American who served his country, used his G.I. Bill to become a history teacher for military’s children. Who has earned a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in secondary education, a second master’s in educational leadership, and who hopes to graduate in September with a Doctorate in Principal Leadership. Who just happens to be Black. Without the word ‘Black’ many would be proud. With the word “Black” some think what I fought and earned through hard work and perseverance was given, because of the word ‘Black’.
It seems that the more comfortable I become in my skin, the more some want the world to hate me. Do we see the pendulum going one way? I have for years. It is about to swing back towards those who have pushed it and thought they could control it and we (me, women, immigrants and many more). The pendulum is about to swing back not because of anything we have done. Not because of the way we have fought back (with love). The pendulum is beginning to swing because those who have pushed and pushed it in one direction can push no more. Now gravity and God will take over and pull and push it back and forth until it settles, and we will all have to accept when the pendulum (time) stops. And we will all have to ask; What is the fear we feared the most? What was the change I could not face? When the pendulum stops swinging and begins to move on its owns, will you let it swing or will you try once again to push it to your will.
I wonder where the pendulum will be when I get off the plane this summer to see my girls who are both Black and White Americans who have only really lived in since they started college. My daughters who have grown up as citizens of the earth and the United States. I have fought and sacrificed for them so that they could live the American dream. I pray that when I step off the plane this summer the dream is still alive for all Americans. This is the America I hope to see. Is anyone listening to me? To quote a phrase; “Is there anybody out there?” Is there any heart in there?