From the very first time I was able to sit in front of an old television, with its snowy black-and-white picture, I absorbed what I saw before me. What I saw before me was what I perceived to be the truth — but it has been said that truth, like roses, sometimes has thorns.
Red savages, redskins or red N-words, as they were called, seemed to permeate every television show of the old west going to the very extreme just to portray Native Americans in the most negative of light. There I sat cheering on the cavalry, not understanding that it was just a people trying to hold onto their land and way of life and something most people would do today. It is for that reason that I will tip my hat to local columnist John Grindrod and national columnist Leonard Pitts for their analytical look at the name, “Washington Redskins.” Simply telling the truth about Native Americans should be enough to set that name free because truth has no allocated time or day or year to appear, it’s time is now and it is always.
If we were a nation of people who truly believed in interpersonal relationships, that name would have already been changed. The differences that we see in each other should be an anchor for growth. After all, the only time we learn and grow and go from the unknown to the known is through some kind of interaction. When you close your mind to “other” people, you have lost an opportunity to expand your own mind. The only way to expand the intellect in that mind is to make up your mind about nothing regarding what someone looks or talks like. Having the ability to understand how another person feels and having the ability to communicate that feeling is nothing more than having an empathetic mind.
When I hear young black youths throwing around the N word with the kind of gusto that would make a 1930 Klansman proud, I am pained because they do not realize they have injured themselves and opened the door for its widening usage. Paula Deen is a recent and primary example.
I am fighting to understand why it is used so much in music. It is hard to expect someone else to dignify your own humanity if you do not expect it of yourself. I have often wondered what reaction would take place if Native Americans, in song and music, referred to each other as red N-words, savages or redskins.
I am pained as well when I see parts of this community left behind because of the conceptual thought that if someone is different, they do not have the same wants, desires, and pursuits for happiness that the majority may have. Making someone smile is not only a gift you give to them, it’s a gift you give to yourself as well. I have yet to see any professional sports team achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship without a strong emphasis on teamwork. How can the Cleveland Browns provide for the right side of the line while ignoring the left side and expect to be a winner?
Successful communities believe in teamwork and have the ability to see the big picture in recognizing and understanding just how people interconnect to form the larger whole for the common good of everyone. Sports teams that lack a true sense of unity and teamwork cannot possibly be a winner. Why would any community expect anything different? If this community is going to be a winner, then it needs to put on the face of a winner filled with hope and happiness for everyone. That new face would provide an immediate remedy to a good portion of this city who are lacking in the feeling that they belong. Just open your eyes, your ears and look around.
We can choose that or continue on this spiral downward with this continual population decline which has got to be a major concern for those that have made financial investments in this community. I have witnessed some who contribute nothing to themselves or this community but I have also witnessed those whose purpose in life appears to be that of holding someone else down. They say that destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice which leaves up to us the option of choosing what kind of world, what kind of community we will live in.