Less than a week ago my family of six enjoyed a fabulous trip to NYC to see all the sights. Statue of Liberty. 9/11 Museum. Central Park. Empire State Building.
One stop I had planned during our intense and relatively short trip was the African Burial Ground National Monument in Manhattan. Ever since my life-altering coffee in 2017, I have been craving to understand the African American narrative in our country. When I happened upon the African Burial Ground during my research prior to the trip, I knew this was a must-see for me.
Though I cannot return to the past and right wrongs done to those 15,000 or so Africans that were treated as less than even in burial, I can in 2018 stop by the monument and remember them. Honor them. I can pause to reflect on how humans can divide and hate and disrespect based solely on the color of the skin God gave a person. I can be warned to not do likewise.
Stopping among all the busyness of NYC and showing my four kids this spot was a highlight of the trip for me.
And, then tonight happened.
Back home from the trip as I was googling African Burial Ground to add a link to my African American History post, I came upon this story about an incident that took place in the short time since I visited the monument.
I am grieved and angered by the racist graffiti that was written at this sacred place just days after I was there. Naively, I thought NYC was not as racist as the south where I grew up and now live. But this anonymous action reveals that racism is alive and active in NYC just as it is here.
It is incredibly hard for us as whites to understand what it is like to be black. We cannot comprehend a history that hates us. We cannot comprehend a present that still wants to kill us.
I ask you to have compassion towards African Americans. I ask you to listen to them when they tell you that racism still exists. Do not assume they are just complaining. Do not assume they are just being overly sensitive. Do not assume that the absence of slavery and segregation means all is well for blacks. Whites, we must seek to understand what it is like to walk in their shoes. And, then we must be moved to action. How will we do that? Pray. Ask God to show you and direct your path.
My kids were around me when I discovered the upsetting story about the racist graffiti. They watched a news story with me. My six year old daughter was especially bothered by the situation. After noticing her countenance, I asked her if she was sad, and she nodded yes. I asked her why.
My daughter quietly replied, “It makes me think of Maddie.”
Maddie is a girl who holds a very special place in my daughter’s heart. My daughter considers her a best friend.
My daughter could not comprehend why people would hate her best friend solely because of her skin color.
I do not understand the hatred either. I do not understand what our forefathers were thinking in justifying slavery. I do not understand what our forefathers were thinking when they imposed Jim Crow. I do not understand what would cause a person to go to a sacred African burial spot in 2018 and deface it with “Kill N——.”
My heart is broken.
Racism does still exist. We do still have work to ensure justice for all. Respect for all. Hope for all. One relationship at a time. One post at a time. One right choice at a time. Change can happen. Are you willing to do your part? Are you willing to see the United States through the eyes of a black person? Are you willing to weep with those that weep?
One thing you can do right now is express your sorrow directly to those who oversee the African Burial Ground. Click this link and then choose “email.” Send a quick word of sympathy and compassion.
Thank you for caring. Please never stop.