by Dr. T
We tell our children and young people we can see the potential in them! We help them to see it in themselves and direct, encourage and support them along the way. But after years and years, if we are still talking about potential when that same child is grown with grey hair of their own, then what was once potential now becomes pathetic! Consider this parable.
Each year the farmer plants the field, the crops that grow are disappointing and do not live up to expectation or potential. So the next year the farmer gets new seeds and plants again, but with pretty much the same results. The farmer decides to turn over the soil and fertilize the field the next year and although there is some improvement, the difference in the crops is barely noticeable. The farmer is completely perplexed and frustrated. What is the problem? Why won’t the field produce a healthy increase? The farmer has an incredible field with the potential to grow an enormous crop to feed both his family and his community while taking the excess produce to the marketplace to sell for profit and re-investment in the community. But instead, the field doesn’t produce anything but a mediocre and underwhelming crop. One day an elder asks, “What was in this place before you planted this field here?” Upon looking back and doing some research, the farmer discovers that the field was once a toxic waste dump, and although the soil on top of the field “looks fine” and has been fertilized and cultivated, plowed and sifted, the poison, acidity and chemical mixture that remains beneath the top soil will not allow the crops to grow like they should and produce the healthy increase they have the potential for; until the toxic waste is cleaned up, removed and disposed of in a safe and effective way, this field will NEVER yield a crop that lives up to its potential. And neither will the United States of America!
The racial history of the United States of America and its deep and endemic legacy of institutional and systemic bias, prejudice and racial hatred are like toxic waste that has never been cleaned up and properly disposed of in a safe and systematic way. Why can’t we “fix” the racial problems that have exponentially resulted in the unresolved murders and assaults on black and brown bodies in America? Specifically, the broken criminal justice system, overpolicing, profiling and discrimination against African American people by police departments and judicial systems all over the country. The police have been put on BLAST most recently with social media and cell phone videotaped executions, along with rising movements like Black Lives Matter and Mothers of the Movement. Yes, it is a complex issue and it’s also a complexion issue too! We have this country’s historic legacy and national shame that have never been addressed. We live in a place whose legacy allowed white supremacy, patriarchy and MANIFEST DESTINY to found a nation on stolen land, broken treaties, enslaved labor and state sanctioned terrorism. History has encoded in the birth of this nation a story that white folks win; no matter what happens they win! They win, and that means people of color lose and that’s the story that has continued to contaminate the ground on which we stand; our fields, our crops and our potential tainted by… what lies beneath.
So unless we are ALL willing to roll up our sleeves and get out in the field and dig up that toxic waste of our historic legacy, white folks…you have to be out there early (metaphorically speaking), we will NEVER be able to SEE this nation embrace its GREATNESS and its great potential. After 150 years since the Emancipation, our potential is beginning to approach the PATHETIC! GROW UP AMERICA!