I have contemplated this entry for a while. I have not written anything yet for a few reasons. The main one being it took time to process my thoughts. Another is that I’m still processing my thoughts. Yet, I think it’s important to go ahead and put something out there. And…I’m reminded one doesn’t have to put anything out there. People ask. How was it? How do you feel? Questions. Lots of questions. And that’s fine. But sometimes I simply don’t want to answer. Because everything I say seems inadequate. We live in a world though, at least I do, where people want a summary. A wrap up. Thoughts? People want to know ones thoughts.
Anyway, I took a trip with some high school students. The idea being a civil rights tour. Kids in our program where I work. Which, I won’t get into. The programing. Just know a van full of teenagers and three adults traveled from Lexington to Birmingham to Selma to Montgomery to Atlanta to Knoxville. Then back home to Lexington. A Thursday through Sunday.
Lots of miles covered. Lots to take in. If you know anything about teenagers, and I suppose most people reading my blog either are or have been one, you know they do not always share their thoughts out loud. They often don’t verbalize their feelings. Which is fine with me because I don’t either. And I’m many years removed from teenager status. Some of what we experienced on this trip was dramatic. The church where four girls lost their lives in 1963. Seeing it. Hearing it. The Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. Visiting the Equal Justice Initiative. Some of the trip was fun. Watching kids play basketball in a gym until 2am. Eating together.
My personal thoughts though. I’m having a hard time with some of it. I feel angry. Somewhat shocked regarding the treatment of children. Children hurt, incarcerated. Killed. That’s a lot for me to take in.
The hardest part though was the talk. The family talk geared to the boys who it’s imperative hear. The talk that I never had to give my son. Because he is not at risk. He is white. He is free in a way other young men are not. White moms do not give the talk to their white sons. In actuality, I doubt it even crosses their minds. I’m reminded, though, often. That I have friends who must. Must tell their boys to be careful. Be respectful to an extreme. Obey. Be on ones best behavior because people are watching. Always watching. Expecting a mess up. Expecting a mess. Expecting a situation simply because. I would never tell my son that. I have never considered telling him. Because there is simply no need. Most white moms hope for the best realizing boys will be boys and we tell our girls to be careful. Be safe. Be aware. But we never fully consider our sons might be taken away because of their color. It seems ludicrous to think about. Because it simply does not happen. Yet for some of the boys on the trip. It very well could. And that sobers me. Makes me feel all kinds of things. People look at them and expect not the best. Judgement calls. And I hate that.
I could go on. And on. But I see no need. I know people who most likely will disagree. Say there’s no such thing as a difference. And others who would tell me I’m right on track. Yet that’s not the point of my entry today. The point is what came to mind. What thoughts I was left with. What questions I ask myself today, reflecting back. What troubles me. And like I stated above, what troubles me is the difference I believe is reality. 1963 and 1863 and 1763 and even 1663. Years and years of a difference. Quite a few “talks”. Quite a few “be carefuls” compared to “boys will be boys”.
Church in Birmingham where bombing killed four girls.
Bridge in Selma, where marchers crossed and headed to Montgomery.
I took this photo in Selma. I believe it was outside a small restaurant. I like it for a few reasons. I like flowers. I like outdoor tables and I like eating outside. But it also spoke to me, in that isn’t this the way the world’s supposed to be? Everyone should be able to sit down together, in a lovely setting, and share. Share a meal. A thought. A dream or hope. Nothing has to match. Nothing has to be perfectly clean or presentable. Just simply sit down and share. I like that.