‘There’s still work left to be done’

written by Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader, March 2015

When I was a kid, everyone wanted the Crayola 64-pack with the built-in sharpener, even though the school supply list only required us to have eight crayons.

Not just blue and green but cornflower, sea green and aquamarine. Not just red, orange and yellow but mahogany, magenta, salmon and goldenrod.  Bittersweet, burnt sienna, periwinkle.

That 64-pack was a beautiful array of possibilities.

***

“Remember the Titans” shares the true story of the TC Williams High School football team, which was integrated in 1971. In one scene, Coach Herman Boone takes his players to Gettysburg.

“Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys… Listen to their souls… Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were.”

We’ve come a long way, but we’re still fighting the same fight.

I watched the Selma 50th Anniversary ceremony over the weekend and was saddened by the images I saw from our history, but inspired by the words of Rep. John Lewis, who was brutally beaten on that Bloody Sunday in Selma.

“We must use this moment to recommit ourselves to do all we can to finish the work. There’s still work left to be done…

“We come to Selma to be renewed. We come to Selma to be inspired. We come to be reminded that we must do the work that justice and equality calls us to do.”

There is still work to be done.

Just this week, the University of Oklahoma closed one of its fraternities after a video emerged of the chapter’s members engaging in a racist chant.

How and why is this still happening? Angered and disgusted, I remembered Rep. Lewis.

There is still work to be done.

“A just-released Census Bureau report shows that by 2044, whites will no longer comprise a racial majority in the United States,” wrote William Frey in a Los Angeles Times op-ed recently. “By then, the nation will be made up of a kaleidoscope of racial groups, including Latinos, blacks, Asians, Native Americans and multiracial Americans.”

How beautiful — a kaleidoscope of Americans.

“This ‘no racial’ majority scenario, even three decades away, provokes fear in some white Americans: fear of change, of losing privileged status or of unwanted people coming into their communities. But it is a change that should be welcomed.”

I agree. I grew up in a Christian family and church that taught me God created all of us and loves each one of us. I have great difficulty comprehending the concept of racism. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It never has.

“God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

What makes even less sense to me are the people who profess to believe the same as me but their words and actions speak otherwise.

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8).

Regardless of your religious beliefs, racism is a moral issue.

In “Long Walk to Freedom,” Nelson Mandela wrote: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin… People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Rep. Lewis concluded his remarks in Selma by saying, “We are one people, one family, the human family.”

Each one of us is a beautiful part of the kaleidoscope. The cornflower, the sea green, the aquamarine. The mahogany, magenta and goldenrod.

***

Interestingly, Crayola now sells the Ultimate Crayon Case with 152 colors. They’ve added things like mountain meadow, pacific blue, royal purple, wild strawberry, scarlet and sunglow.

With more color brings more beauty.

Maya Angelou said: “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

I couldn’t agree more. Teach them young. Teach them old. Teach them all.

There is still work to be done.

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