How did a weed become a weed and not a flower?
I was pulling out weeds from our sidewalk today. As I ripped these living organisms from the unyielding soil, I felt somewhat guilty. Questions tugged at the edge of my thoughts.
Who decided a weed is a weed?
How did that person convince everyone to agree?
Maybe it went something like this:
One man gestures to his front yard, points to one of the plants and says:
“Hey, that plant over there. Don’t ya think it’s kinda ugly? Ya know, I don’t really like looking at it. If it’s gonna be in my yard, I need to at least like what I’m seein’. “
“Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, it’s your yard,” the friend is accommodating, agreeable.
“Ya, hey, you should tell Bill next door. I bet he’ll agree. In fact, the whole town should get rid of ’em. Unsightly weeds. I don’t wanna see ’em anywhere around here anymore!”
Word of mouth . . . a powerful tool. The idea spreads, and then, you have the birth of businesses who specialize in “weed removal services” and “lawn care.”
Because . . .
One day, someone decided that a weed was a weed and a flower was a flower. Someone said, this plant is ugly, but this plant is better. This plant doesn’t deserve to live, but this one deserves to be tended, nurtured, and loved.
Weeds and Racism: What do they have in common?
As I contemplated this, I began to think about racism, and those who actively practice, condone, or don’t speak out against it. Many of us know those moments when a friend or family member says something, and instead of speaking up, people ignore or agree, trading justice for the comfort of conformity.
This attitude perpetuates the idea that the other, the different, are weeds that need to be plucked and burned, removed and eradicated from society; a society where they live, a society they spend their money in, a society where they are contributing daily.
Think about the atrocities of the Holocaust. If someone came along and downplayed the genocide, perhaps by saying it was just one bad event among years of humanity in this world, most of us would be shocked and appalled.
Yet, every day, many people in this nation continue to say there is no oppression of black and brown people in America. There are people who still believe that these are isolated incidents when presented with the undeniable truth. How do we set up a platform for change?
How a nation becomes stagnant . . .
I remember something I had heard years ago when I unsuccessfully decided to grow a garden. I learned that growing the same thing over and over on a stretch of land leads to stagnation, infertility, and fallow soil. Pests and disease proliferate in the soil when the same crop is sown year after year.
Farmers often choose to rotate their crops. They have to embrace learning about a different crop, all of its intricacies and how to foster its growth, which may be completely different than the crop before it. If they don’t, the soil doesn’t yield, nutrients die off, and the crops are slowly depleted.
This is our country. The land has become fallow with the planting and tending to the majority race, with an education system geared towards the success of white students, founded in the educational practices suited toward a white majority, toward students who had privilege from the beginning.
This land is fallow with the foundation of an economic system that caters to the white man, built on the backs of slaves; a constitution that wrote out women and minorities to protect the freedom and success of the white man.
Yes, new laws have been written, some mindsets have been redirected, but the root of systemic racism was planted over 400 years ago, and it grew and grew. The school systems in this country still teach to the white man because it’s systemic. It is not because teachers don’t care.
- It is because many of us aren’t trained on how to change this.
- It is because we are overwhelmed in the system of assessment and standards that are geared towards the learning of the white man.
- It is because those of us who are aware are often fighting prejudice that is taught and reinforced in our students’ homes.
The nation mistook the white way as the only way. They mistook this one flower for all the flowers. The disease of racism became deeply embedded in the soil, the diseased crops yielding hate, violence, murder, and indifference year after year.
Hope or Heartbreak: The choice is ours
But, eventually, this crop will die. It is not self-sustaining. It will eradicate its own importance because it will need change to survive. It will need different crops to revitalize and bring life again to the land.
There came a time recently when the nation needed industries that employed many minorities to work in the fields and meat processing plants, to keep us fed and comfy and warm. What if the people we needed never came?
The hope is for unity, but if America doesn’t change, if America doesn’t listen, the day our lives depend on the minority, the different, the other, there will be no one else to blame if they abandon the nation because the nation abandoned them.
A Call To Action!!!
In the hope for change, I am appealing to anyone with a social presence to #buildtheplatform and then step off. Not just once, but again and again. Find a black voice you support, an everyday black American who hasn’t had a national platform to speak, and give them your social media platform for that day.
Join the #buildtheplatform movement and give voice to the voiceless.
Allow black Americans to speak about their experience in this country. Blacking out our social media pages isn’t enough. We need to #fillthefeed with the experiences of the victims of racism in this country to silence and educate the voices that say racism doesn’t exist.
#buildtheplatform #stepoff #fillthefeed