Its name is the Pareto Principle, however, most of us know it by the 80-20 Rule. Twenty percent of the input is responsible for 80% of the output or some like to say 20% of the people do 80% of the work. However, I want to apply it to a post that I put up this week called “I Am Not Black.”
I took that post down last night but have included it at the bottom of this one. I took it down because of the comments. They not only made me sad, they made me mad. I typed my responses with such anger that the keystrokes could be heard by my son in another room. I banged out responses to those who chose name calling and the “what abouts” and the “where were yous” and the “who are yous” while also responding to the “have you considereds”, the “try this ones” and the “thank you ones”. As the darkness settled in, I realized that I may never leave my computer and that I may throw it at the wall, so I deleted the post and forcefully closed my laptop. That night I wrestled in my dreams, fighting with an unseen assailant only to catch a glance in a mirror and I was alone. I woke up tired with a sense of defeat. I felt weak.
However, as my morning progressed and rational thought returned, I began to think about those comments and how it related to the Pareto Principle. It was 80% of the people, both black and white, that wanted to problem solve and it was 20% of the people that did not or didn’t offer suggestions. However, it was the 2% of the people that made me finally take it down and they were white. They HATED black people and they HATED me, or my guess would be anyone like me that wanted to problem solve. And let me tell you friend, these 2%, they are vicious. They called me names, they called black people names, or they couldn’t use their words so they just would repost others hate. The crazy thing is that the same few people posted most of the worst posts as if they didn’t have another thing to do in their day. I would say that while this 2% had the biggest mouths, they still are just 2%, right?
But what of the other 18% in that mix of the 20%? Well, it was kind of surprising to hear black people or Hispanic people state they have never experienced racism of which there were a handful. Then there were a fair number of what I call “the deflectors” which I describe in the post. One person deflected to what happened to Native Americans in 1773. Interestingly, I happen to be a member of the Western Cherokee Nation but seriously it doesn’t mean that in caring for racism against blacks that I forego my ability to hate all racism. As I said, stereotyping, racial bias, prejudice, and racism are all beads on the same string and none of them are a part of God’s plan. So, what is the answer?
My opinion is that while we must see changes in how the police handle all suspects, solving this problem is like treating a symptom without diagnosing the disease and the patient still dies. Perhaps the disease is a need for equal hope through nutrition, education, opportunities, etc. and while diagnosing and treating the disease and symptoms are good, the patient still dies. The truth is that it is impossible for the patient to live outside of the perfect genetic code and that is impossible without forgiveness, and love, and God who made the perfect genetic code whose name was Jesus. However, even with our imperfect genetic code, our imperfect ability to love and forgive, REGARDLESS, we still have the power to offer these gifts even if they are not returned. And friends, as Jesus said what is love if we only extend to the “lovable”? We must learn to love everyone, that is true love. I believe love begins with forgiveness, reconciliation, empathy, touch, joy, laughter, relationship! If we love well, then we shall live well, and our life will have meaning and purpose. Love is action, not just a feeling.
Regardless, if you are among the 80 or the 20, let me leave you with the best solutions I read:
- Start a small group with people that don’t look or think like you and LISTEN.
- Become aware of stereotyping and how you can change this in your own heart.
- Don’t stop caring about these issues this time.
- Go to your local school board and see what American History books are taught and read them and then see history from black authors. How do they differ? Lobby for truth in history.
- Look at your state and local laws and see if any reflect racial based roots and change them.
- Go to Washington DC and visit the African American Museum and while there also visit the Native American and Holocaust Museums.
- Join a church that has a black pastor as its leader and don’t try to change the church once you become a member.
- Go to the website: www.bethebridge.com and become a Bridge Builder.
- Teach your children while they are young about loving all people.
- Don’t judge someone else unless you have walked in their shoes.
- Join the www.oneracemovement.com
- Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I AM NOT BLACK
As American citizens as well as those around the world turn their temporary attention span to the brutal murder of George Floyd and the protests and riots that it sparked, I am drawn to write about what I don’t know. These are the things I know I don’t know; I cannot imagine all the things that I don’t even know that I don’t know when it comes to race relations.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a black man, woman, or child living in America, therefore:
I don’t know what it feels like to see yet another black man die an unjust death in an unjust system.
I don’t know what it feels like to see bystanders witness a death that was slow in coming and yet be too fearful to intervene.
I don’t know what it feels like to see a message of unified outrage evolve into a message of outrage about the way people show rage.
I don’t know what it feels like to have a lifetime of the little deaths which come with race in America create a wildfire of anger erupting from a final spark and makes me want to cause death.
I don’t know what it feels like to live in a place called “The Projects” or “The Third Ward” and believe my only hope of getting out is an extraordinary gift of athletics or a fortunate bit of luck with talent that gives me ability to rap my pain to the world.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a black man or woman of privilege, success, education, whatever and my people don’t identify with me because I didn’t grow up in a place with a name like theirs.
I don’t know what it feels like to stand under a flag that my people fought for (American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars, Korean, and Vietnam) and yet that same flag doesn’t give me the same freedoms for which it stands.
I don’t know what it feels like to know my ancestors fought alongside their owners in the war with promises of freedom and then return to slavery once the war was over.
I don’t know what it feels like to be owned by someone whether by the chains of slavery or by the figurative owning from incurring massive indebtedness due to a system that I must use to change my circumstances through advanced education.
I don’t know what it feels like to live in a country that is steeped in traditions of racism that still exist today.
I don’t know what it feels like to know that every single day institutional racism exists and yet the conversation is deflected EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It gets a little uncomfortable that I finally just stop having the conversation.
I don’t know what it feels like to have a language based on all the ways I am treated differently (for example: DWB is driving while black).
I don’t know what it feels like to have to daily instill value into my children because society never will.
I don’t know what it feels like to send my children to school and worry they might not survive the day because of a drive by shooting in my neighborhood.
I don’t know what it feels like to step into my children’s preschool and have to scan the crowd to look for another black face to have a sense of comfort, a sense of belonging, and when they are not there, my heart sinks.
I don’t know what it feels like to live in a community in the South where it is ok to have a business called Tar Babies Restaurant.
I don’t know what it feels like to walk into another restaurant and the hats made from paper placements strike fear in you because they remind you of Ku Klux Klan hats.
I don’t know what it feels like to find out one of my favorite late-night hosts joined the many others that at some time in their life they wore “black face” and now only apologize when it is discovered.
I don’t know what it feels like to live a life in America and have to go to Rwanda before I feel I am truly loved by a white person.
I don’t know what it feels like to have two old white men argue between themselves about how much they love me as they run to be my president and neither one represents me.
I don’t know what it feels like to be a part of “the black vote”, “the Hispanic vote”, etc. Don’t they know we vote as our individual conscience just like every “white person” vote.
I don’t know what it feels like to have my good white friends say things like, “I don’t see skin color” (I want them to know that I am proud of my skin color and I want them to see how we are equal but wonderfully unique).
I don’t know what it feels like to have a faith where I am called to “love my neighbor as myself” and yet see people that claim this faith and have no love or if they do it is when it fits into their small cubicle of a good Black man like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I don’t know what it feels like to walk down a street at night and notice the white people crossing the road rather than meet me on the sidewalk.
I don’t know what it feels like when even within my own race we size each other up with just how dark or light our skin is.
I don’t know what it feels like to hear my patient in small town south say, “I don’t want that blackie taking care of me when I know I am one of the best doctors around.
I don’t know what it feels like to be so excited as a young African person coming to America for work or school and get caught up in racial and tribal tensions that I thought I left behind.
I don’t know what it feels like to explain once again that stereotyping, racial bias, prejudice, and racism are merely beads on the same string. A continuum of division which leads to “The Great Divide” our country is in.
I don’t know what it feels like to be judged by the clothes that I wear or how I wear them when it may be my sense of control when every other aspect of my life seems out of control or maybe I just want to be an individual, a fashion icon, or hell, I shouldn’t even have to explain this. I don’t see cowboys having to explain those big hats and pointy toe shoes.
I don’t know what it feels like to be black watching riots where destruction of property and stealing are taking place in the name of a good man and knowing I wasn’t raised that way and yet trying to explain it to my children and my friends.
I don’t know what it feels like to hear repeatedly about black crime, black against black, black against white, black against whoever and scream in my head or at the tv, “PEOPLE, THERE ISN’T A GENE THAT BLACK PEOPLE ARE BORN WITH AND THEREFORE MORE APT TO CAUSE CRIME. WHICH MEANS THERE ARE SOLUTIONS BECAUSE IT IS THE RESULT OF NURTURE, NOT NATURE, THE RESULT OF INJUSTICE, NOT JUST BECAUSE. THERE IS NO WAY WE PULLED THE LEVER IN THE BIRTHING CANAL OF PLEASE LET ME BE BORN BLACK SO THAT I CAN HAVE MORE OPPRESSION AND LESS HOPE, PLEASE!!!”
Each of these things which I don’t know how it feels, I know that they happened to friends of mine, however, describing truth doesn’t get anywhere near the emotion that it evokes.
This is the tip of the iceberg of things I know I don’t know but the most important thing I want to know is how can I be a change agent that effects real change? I know I can’t do it alone but I’m willing to try. I have some ideas but quite frankly I’m a white middle- aged female speaking. What do I know? Well, if you can see from above, NOT A LOT! However, I have been witness to the healing which has occurred in Rwanda where a Genocide against the Tutsi’s took place, where measurements on my face determined my death, not my skin color.
Therefore, I am asking my black and white friends and those who also want to be solution finders, what is the answer? Comment, Share, and maybe together we can begin a meaningful dialogue which also has meaning in its action items. I know I don’t know, may never know, but what I do know is that LOVE CONQUERS HATE EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The question is how much do we really love and do nothing?