Note: This was originally published as a public post on Facebook.
Today I am 60! Yay for me and for the many groups of people who have helped me get safely to this age. As our nation continues down a path of rationalizing hatred, I cannot help but think about the ways history has affected my life.
My birth certificate reads colored baby girl. I attended a grade school run by the Sisters of Mary Namur. The sisters arrived in Texas in the early 1900’s with a plan to open an integrated elementary school long before Brown vs the Board of Education. I was one of the Negro children who benefited from their passion for justice, love of our Lord, and tender care of the marginalized. In college, I explored, lived, and learned to be young, gifted and Black. My church was the first to begin calling me African-American. And all through my life, some have used derogatory epithets to describe their view of me, my skin color, and/or ethnicity. These labels to describe me, tell some of our story as a nation.
I am especially grateful to all those working hard right now to stem the tide of racism that has unleashed hate groups and hate crimes against so many people. Hate is an equal opportunity offender, it knows no boundaries and hears silence as approval. Many people are vocal in their resistance to this pernicious and deadly problem that reoccurs periodically in our country. It takes honesty and vigilance to stamp it out.
I chose to celebrate in the midst of pressing challenges. And I am celebrating more than my birthday. I know all over this country people like the sisters in Fort Worth labor for justice, compassion, and care without the benefit of media, social or otherwise. They are making a difference in a distressing time.
The best parts of my life have been because of the good work others have done to open a door for me and I do my best every day to open a door for someone. At a time when schools were separate and most definitely not equal, the door to a high-quality education was opened to me. A few decades later those efforts yielded a bishop. This is how we crush hatred — and crush it we will. I join you praying for those who grieve, especially as funerals begin for those who died at Tree of Life Synagogue. And I join you in the labor for a just and peaceful future. May God bless each and every one with the power to proclaim God’s love for all people. (Thank you to the Rev. Cynthia Black for the lovely photo!)