You are living in a world that seems to be awakening to the realization that humans*, are NOT defined by the color** of their skin. The 60’s are an era of discovery and you, my dear, will be a teen in an erupting time. Though mom and dad raised us to be colorblind, our grandparents were raised in a completely different era. Understanding their history will help you understand those in the future, who can’t see things the way you do.
In this decade you have watched in sadness the death of great leaders and you will observe a war many don’t agree with. You are going to sit in disbelief at Olympic athletes being killed. You will watch, with so many questions, the riots over basic human rights and marches on cities that won’t allow certain humans to eat at restaurants, drink out of water fountains or vote. And you’re going to wonder why, why does the color of skin matter? How can something that protects us cause so much pain? You are going to make a promise to yourself that you will always be colorblind and you will teach your children to also see that way.
You will see incredible strides in industry, a human land on the moon, the creation of computers, wireless devices, and incredible advances in science. And even though such incredible growth in your world surrounds you, the lessons that your world is being given, the lives that are being lost for causes and the ability to forgive — will be forgotten.
It is 50 years later and I hate to share this with you, dear one, but we are still dealing with the issue of color, name calling and the inability to forgive. Every side on this subject has failed to grow, learn or remember what went on so many years ago. We criticize a war in the Middle East that has lasted nearly 100 years, but this part of our history seems as if it will go on forever. Will we ever outgrow the issue of color? It seems we refuse to let it heal so we can grow together, instead of separately.
I still have questions after all these years, the same ones you may be asking yourself after reading this letter. Why have the deaths, marches and riots, and what they meant to accomplish, been forgotten? Why is it ok to judge the privileged or disadvantaged when we have no idea of their story, how they got there, what they did or didn’t do and what caused their circumstances?
Instead of instilling pride after all the lessons of the 60’s we seemed to have instilled a sense of entitlement. So many people, of every shade, believe they are “owed” something, because of century-old injustices. Instead of moving forward together, we work to keep the mistakes of the past alive. Instead of celebrating the accomplishments that surround us, the people who work hard, and the people who defend us, we sit and discuss ad nauseam as to what hasn’t worked, what isn’t working, and why we haven’t been given more instead of working harder. And at the same time we speak badly about those who do work hard and those who risk everything to protect us. Sadly, my young self, the one thing that seemed to bring us all together, every color on the planet, has been tragedy. Every disaster that has brought sadness and loss — has united humankind. How ironic…
I’m not writing this to scare you, or make you think that nothing good has happened in the last 50 years. AMAZING things have occurred, incredible people have done outstanding things and simple everyday people have changed the lives of so many. I’m sharing this with you so you will stand up to injustice; you will take pride in whatever job you do; you will remain colorblind and continue to be compassionate to those who are less fortunate and cheer on those who are more successful. And that you, little one, only speak words that YOU would love to hear.
I leave you with two quotes that you may not fully understand at 10 years old, but will hopefully keep you on a positive journey to becoming me…
- How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. — Anne Frank
- I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph. — Theodore Roosevelt
So, dear 10 year-old me, I leave you to riding bikes, building forts and dreaming, and ask only one thing of you … don’t forget to remember!
Grateful for you,
An older and hopefully wiser – Sheree
* Human – A member of the species to which men and women belong to; a person, viewed especially as having imperfections and weaknesses (Encarta Dictionary: English (North America))
** Color – The property of objects that depends on the light that they reflect and is perceived as red, blue, green or other shades (Encarta Dictionary: English (North America))