There's a saying that goes something like this, "you can never know a person fully until you walk a mile in their shoes." The past week I have read or seen on television words and phrases that clearly shows me that race is still one hot button issue in the United States of America. So could the answer simply be to let everyone take one day to walk that mile in another person's shoes? Could that be really be the answer or should there be a dedicated holiday when everyone in this country celebrates by being open minded and understanding others. There have been a couple of news headlines over the past week that sparked my interest in writing about this topic.
Let me start with the end of the NFL conference championship game between The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. The moments after the Seahawks were able to hold off the 49ers, win the game, and take their place in the Super Bowl sparked much heated debate. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in his state of excitement and passion for the sport spurted out some words against a player on the opposing team. To say he wasn't loud would be an understatement but that's not the kicker. The kicker is the outpouring of tweets and Facebook statuses that automatically deemed him a monkey, loud, and to some even a thug. I watched the post interview and while I did think he was loud I understood it because of the intensity and passion of the game. All the stakes were on the line -- remember, the winning team would go to the Super Bowl. With all that said, there wasn't one time that I thought, 'oh wow, that Richard Sherman is a thug,' because that wouldn't be true of the Stanford grad. Stanford isn't just any school.
Then there was this, on the holiday deemed to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A store in Duluth, Minnesota decided that it would offer up a sale, and the plug line was "25 percent off everything black." The owner of the shop said that in the four years she has done the sale there was never a complaint, but something this year sparked change. The complaints rolled in and some called the sale offensive and disgusting. In her defense, the owner of the store said it's just as offensive to still have sales on Columbus Day. In some regards I agree with her, there's a sale for everything, but it's extremely touchy to have a sale that honors a man and in the same sentence say "25 percent off everything black." The owner also said she admired Dr. King and wanted to have the sale to show that.
Race has and in my opinion will always be a touchy and emotional topic for people in this country. My question is, how do we overcome that? How do we live in a country where we don't waste time having weeklong discussions on whether Santa is black or white? How do we live in country where someone isn't automatically labeled a thug because he or she might be loud or, the default, a black man? Maybe we can all learn something from the small children I see on the basketball court in my neighborhood in Harlem who don't see color while shooting hoops on the court. None it will ever matter until we can seriously have an open and honest question about the state of race in this country. My conclusion, I think we all have to be willing to bend or change just a little to continue progressing in this ever-changing world. I've always believed just like you learn to hate, you can learn to love. So why don't we all just spend a little time much like the kids on the basketball court who all come together to bond over a sport. We all come from different backgrounds, but we all live in this one country, together and I believe that this country's issues with race can be solved if everyone started to display just a little more love and tolerance to the next man, to the next woman, boy and girl no matter the color.