One of the only good perks of insomnia is that your overactive brain sometimes reminds you of things you should never forget.
Up at the Butt Crack o’ dawn, I was watching TV when a trailer for the new movie, “Hidden Figures,” aired. The movie is about three black female mathematicians who played a significant role in the early NASA space race during the late 1950s – early 60s.
During one scene, the women, who had been pulled over by a cop, were standing outside of their car. The officer asks them for identification. One of the women says they are just on their way to work, and that they worked at NASA.
Looking at their ID badges, the cop says, “I had no idea NASA hired… “
“There’s quite a few women in the space program, sir,” one of them replies.
That exchange triggered a childhood memory that still makes me cringe.
At camp one summer – I was probably 10 or 12 – I had the occasion to say something stupid like, “there aren’t any Negros who go to my school.”
I used that word, thinking I was being respectful. At that time in my life, the only other term I had ever heard adults around me use in referring to People of Color was one I still won’t say.
The other campers laughed at me. In my adolescent mind, I thought the ridicule was because they expected me to use that slur and I was indignant.
It didn’t dawn on me until years later how ignorant I must have sounded.
While my intent was sincere, my words were inadequate. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There were no adults to ask, no peers to look to. Certainly nothing on television or in the movies, books or in print that would help me be a better ally.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Today, with the plethora of information available at the touch of a finger, there is no excuse to not be informed, to be educated, to be involved when an injustice happens.
Still, for those of us who don’t live with the daily threat of prejudice and violence hanging over our heads, there is so much we can’t know, can’t understand. I want to believe that the majority of us try, our intent is sincere, but often our words and actions are inadequate.
“Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act” ~ The Talmud
This week’s word is:
What to do:
Using “justice” for inspiration, write 100 Words – 100 exactly – no more, no less. You can either use the word – or any form of the word – as one of your 100, or it can be implied. Include a link in your post back here, and add your story to the Mister Linky list. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your submission in the comment section, or as a Facebook status post. Remember to keep spreading the love with supportive comments for your fellow Wordsters.