There’s a scene from The Color Purple that immediately jumped in my mind after hearing President Obama’s most recent discussion on race. The family Suge Avery and her boyfriend are sitting around the table, and Mister insults Miss Celie just one time too often. She grabs a knife, curses him, and declares her independence.
It wasn’t Miss Celie I’m feeling right now, although President Obama played the role, I’m feeling Ms. Sophia.
Ms. Sophia had her face scared and her spirit broken from a completely unjust interaction with a racist criminal justice system. Remember it? The White lady wanted to pet her child, and she had the nerve to speak out against it, got attacked defended herself and was beaten down in the street?
That’s exactly how I and a great many Black people felt in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial’s verdict.
President Obama spoke the kind of truth that Black America needed to hear to go forward, and for that I will forever treasure the two votes I cast for him. Ms. Sophia was able to wake up from the slumber the abuse had placed her. She was able to be herself again.
I’d like to add a call for action.
We are currently in the midst of celebrating the life and times of the Madiba. I like President Obama came to political activism struggling against our nation’s support of South Africa. I would like to propose a tool the South African people used to great effect, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission except an American one.
The most appealing aspect of this idea to me is that of Truth. We would have stakeholders from say, not just Native peoples, but the issues of a Native person from the plains and from Alaska. We would have not just Asians, but Japanese to speak of internment, Chinese to speak of their experiences in America’s cities. We should have stake holders for everyone to write in an event where all of American history is discussed.
We can discuss the individual experience of every wave of immigration we have been blessed with and finally expose any painful myths laying underneath like how Italian people are seen as mafia dons, or just anything.
I’ve always felt that our reconstruction after the civil war was designed to reconcile Northern White people with their Southern brothers. I call on a reconciliation of the entire American family.
The soul searching the President called for in his speech will by our history uncover nasty things, but the only way to get forgiveness is to ask for it, even if it regards something you were not personally responsible for. The only way for anyone to grant forgiveness is to feel as if the offense is recognized and forgiveness is sought.
We can do this.
Oh yes, Miss Sophia feeling better now I’m home now.