Sometimes sorry isn’t enough….
So, one of my many shortcomings is a tendency to hold a grudge. Having grown up mostly on my own I came to see the few friends I had as the most important things in my life. Conversely, I tend never to forget individuals who played a direct role in making the tough times in my life even harder. I have always struggled with the idea of “forgive and forget” precisely because I rarely had the power to advance solely through my own means. Forgiving is one thing, but forgetting has always been quite another, especially when the transgression clearly led to a reversal or setback that I would never be able to make up for on my own. And when I look at things that I have been denied or have had taken away from me because of the mistreatment of others I’m not always mature enough to let go of my anger. Of course, the most critical issue in all of this has always been clearly determining how much of a mistake or failure is the result of my own issues versus being undermined or mistreated by another.
White and black, everyone struggles to understand and explain the setbacks they experience in their lives. What must be understood however is that in addition to all the explanations white Americans must consider for their failures, African-Americans have one additional potential cause: racism. And further, it is often quite difficult to clearly identify the existence of racism before considering how significant its impact is. I may know for sure I was mistreated because of my race, but it’s often quite difficult to convince others (e.g. my white colleagues and coworkers) of the reality of what I’m experiencing. Too many times when I’m trying to explain what I see as racism I end up feeling like the little kid from Sixth Sense trying to convince everyone that the ghosts are real.
When it comes to my own experiences, I am 100% sure that my career has been held back because of racism by former employers. But relative to everything going on I keep coming back to Colin Kaepernik. The events of the last few weeks have vindicated the stance he took four years ago in protesting police brutality against African-Americans. But that vindication is not going to bring back the four years of his career that was taken from him. It’s not going to erase the four years of negativity, isolation, and anxiety that he must’ve had to deal with fighting the fight that the powerful did not recognize. It’s not going to return four years of lost salary, accolades, or anything else that might have come from him being allowed to work in his chosen profession.
But if he were in any way to express anger or hold a grudge over how he was mistreated for the last four years he would do irreparable damage to the message. It is currently a struggle for many white Americans to recognize and sympathize with America’s legacy of racism and its impact on African-Americans… But it seems that hope can be taken from the idea that many more are engaging that struggle. What must be understood is African-Americans will struggle with their own recognition… and forgiveness. Just as there are some white Americans who will never give up their racist philosophies, there are some black Americans who will never forgive. And for those that do, they may still hold a grudge…