Everybody, let's take a deep breath, and on the count of one "» two "» three ... exhale. This past year, I have seen an increase in emails wanting to know if I still believe racial harmony is achievable, especially in light of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old African-American high school student Trayvon Martin and his shooter's acquittal.
Everybody, let's take a deep breath, and on the count of one "¦ two "¦ three ... exhale. This past year, I have seen an increase in emails wanting to know if I still believe racial harmony is achievable, especially in light of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old African-American high school student Trayvon Martin and his shooter's acquittal.
Like many of you, I see the similarities between this case and Emmett Till, the 14-year-old murdered in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Both were in their teens, black, and blamed for their own deaths by violating America's racial rules.
When I was 9 years old, my father sat me down and said, "Linda, the world does not like our skin color." In an instant, my confusion turned into grief when my father pushed a copy of Jet magazine into my hand and I looked down at the gruesome post-mortem photo of Emmett Till. I can still hear my father say that not all whites were like the people who killed this boy and how I would realize that as I lived my life.
Now, mind you, my father wasn't being cruel; he was just doing what millions of black parents have been taught to do — prepare their children for the inevitable experiences of racism. My father was a wise man.
According to the July 2013 Pew Research survey on the Zimmerman trial, 60 percent of whites thought the trial focused too much on race while 78 percent of blacks thought this case was about race. Within hours of Zimmerman's verdict, my emails tripled with people asking if whites and blacks were doomed to be enemies. The numbers may seem discouraging to you, but remember, we are a people in transition.
These two tragedies are proof that we are slowly shedding and separating from our outdated, familiar racial patterns. The lynching of Emmett Till galvanized blacks to seek equality and social change. Trayvon Martin inspired people of all races to unite and speak out for justice. Fortunately, tragedy needn't be the only path to societal transformation.
Our society's racial beliefs were formulated before the 19th century. No wonder we can't get on the same page — whites and blacks are communicating with an outdated system! Can two people communicate when one uses a cellphone while the other uses a string and cans while standing 10 miles apart? It's impossible.
Both groups are feeding off each other (anger, hate, disillusionment), which, unfortunately, strengthens and perpetuates more racism. Sixty percent of whites unable to recognize the injustice and 78 percent of blacks outrage over whites' inability to recognize the injustice done does not cultivate good feelings. Instead, the desperation, anger and outrage increase exponentially. These attitudes only create a stronger negative racial frequency. A racial frequency, or vibration, is energy, similar to a radio signal. Every mood or feeling we have about race emits a positive or negative frequency which matches up with a similar one and boomerangs the energy back to you in the form of experiences. Which frequency do you think we experience more as a society? The negative frequency — because it's familiar.
So, what do we do to unplug from this way of thinking? First, stop the blame, and then keep digging for the source of your negative racial beliefs. They came from somewhere — either your own past or from someone from a previous generation. My book, "Good Race Vibes," is an excellent place to start. It will show you how to eliminate deep-seated hurt and pain.
I am reminded of what Emmett Till's mother, Mary Till-Mobley, had to say: "My son was a sacrificial lamb; he was sent to play a special role and I don't think he died in vain." And I'm convinced neither did Trayvon Martin.
Linda Thomas is a social visionary who is passionate about redefining the white and black relationship. Her book, "Good Race Vibes: Everything You Need to Know to Feel Good About Race," is the first book to address race without anger or blame. She lives in Ashland. This article was previously published on her site at www.gooodracevibes.com
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