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Race in America: Moving Through H.A.T.E. to GREAT!

Hate, Accept, Tolerate, Embrace: 4 steps to our Groove!

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By Greg Smith

As a child, I hated the entire concept of disability.  To hate something so much means that a person must separate himself from it.  I did not want to have anything to do with it.  There were healthy, able-bodied people seemingly everywhere… on television, at school, at church.  And there were those disabled people that I would see every now and then in public.  They made me feel awkward and uneasy.  I didn’t want to be around them.  Later in my childhood, I would see more of them in the summers when I went to camp.  But I wasn’t like those people. I did not think of myself in any way as disabled. I was better than that.

As much as I hated my association with the concept of disability, I had no choice but to accept it.  I walked slower.  I could not run.  I could not lift heavy objects.  I could not ride a bike or play sports.  Even though I didn’t consider myself disabled, I had to accept the fact that I was, at the very least limited.

When I reached high school, fate led me to meet a few people with disabilities who were impressive, personable and productive.  That trend continued in college and a slow maturation process began, to the point where I began to tolerate the thought of disability.  I recognized that no matter how hard I tried to fight it, disability was part of my identity. It was as if I had lived my entire life without having the courage to look in a mirror.  And after a long stare, I realized I was in part defined by the “D” word. I still hated that part of my identity and refused to allow it to dominate my focus.  I simply tolerated it.

Over time, my newfound tolerance removed barriers that led to learning about disability history, meeting more great people with disabilities and actually starting to embrace it and finally owning it as a part of my identity!  I went from hatred, to acceptance, to tolerance, to embracing.  It was when I finally reached the stage of embracing that I started to grow leaps and bounds in every area of life.  When I became ONE with my disability and viewed it as a beautiful natural part of human diversity, the world opened up to me and my path through “On A Roll Radio” to “The Strength Coach” was paved.  I was then able to move into my groove!

Racial H.A.T.E

Race relations in America can be compared to my experience with disability.  I was born in March 1964 in rural Bay Springs, Mississippi into a world of hate.  Three months after I was born, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi out of hate.  A month later hate was in the air when 341 were injured and 774 were arrested in race riots in the same town.  These were the headlines but the underlying theme was the same across the land.  We hated each other.

And then came July 2 when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Hate started to yield to the fact that America was changing and like it or not, it was time to accept.

It seems that in the 50 years since the volatile civil rights movement, Americans have been stuck in the mode where racial diversity is something that we tolerate.  That’s kind of a good thing.  Tolerance has led to great accomplishments.  The end of a segregationist philosophy.  The beginning of a shared experience of Americans who started to realize that we had more in common than in conflict.  The emergence of a “middle class” of African Americans and all minorities.  Some of the resistance to the pursuit of the American Dream has eroded, although much of it still exists.  But tolerance has led to a healing path.

We have come a long way, but the recent headlines reveal to me that we are still tolerating racial diversity.  The fact that race is such a hot topic reveals that we are not at a point of embracing that part of our identity yet.

I could not become complete until I embraced my disability as a part of who I am.  That embracing made me complete.  The conflict within myself ended, and using my entire being in congruence, I was able to step into my groove!

In much the same way, America needs to take that last step and embrace ethnic diversity before she can become all that she is capable of.  America is better than she was, but she is still tolerating.  She needs to take that next step and get out of her own way to realize her destiny.  It is about time that tolerance leads to embracing diversity and when that happens, we as a society can finally reach our potential to become one nation, under a groove!

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14 thoughts on “Race in America: Moving Through H.A.T.E. to GREAT!

  1. still thinking of a reply? too much truth for you, i woke up fired up. are you telling me that martin never hit zimm? didnt straddle him and pound his skull in in the pavement? your saying that didnt happen or are you condoning this behavior? if you are, wheres your humanness? when is your race going to stop playing the victim and start taking responsibility for your actions? how long have the vietnemese been here? they literally hit the ground running, they went into the ghettos of biloxi and bought it and transformed it. they understand this is the land of opportunity. what you dont understand is our beast system of govt. has enabled millions of people and made them dependent upon the system. you should see it out here greg, its the most beautiful hood you ever saw, and why is it a hood? the people, generations on welfare and refuse to work. its a total disgusting disgrace. wheres the outrage? wheres the protest? your thinking hey man, you dont know what my father went through, yes i do, he was discriminated against, but fought through it working his butt off, through hard work he was not going to be denied an american dream and guess what, white yankees get just as much discriminated too. i got fired 3 times in ole red neck mississippi in one year. thats how i landed here in the land of fruit and nuts

    • It doesn’t matter if you are black or white (credit: Michael Jackson). Any attempt to turn the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy into a race war is morally repugnant. Until we all stop seeing ourselves as “victims” of someone else we will not progress or succeed.

    • Oh…. and if that was too subtle. The answer to angry black preachers is not angry white preachers. It is less anger and more love.

    • The American agenda is still racial conflict until we are smart enough to egnore the press this will continue. Now its a class struggle not a race struggle and the majority of African Americans struggle each day with a system that trys to deny them the success they deserve .The KKK has changed to suits and ties and are more difficult to spot but they are still there in very powerful places and still spilling racial bigotry and hate. The Zimm/Martin case was a profiler waiting to get somebody anybody Black and Trayvon was it. carrying a weapon gives some people courage. Stan Its not about being the victim its about not being given the chance to succeed. This country has to get pass its racial differences or we will never progress. Should he be in jail only Zimmerman knows that and he was not judged by his piers
      The question you need to ask if the roles were reverse what would have happened. We all know that answer

  2. Thanks for starting this as a civilized discussion Greg. My take is that the Martin/Zimmerman case is the wrong place to pick a battle over racial relations and equality. There is so much misinformation and animosity due to outside agendas that the case is hopelessly muddied in the media and popular perceptions.

    I wonder how many people with young adult sons who have gotten into trouble miss the irony of supporting the killing of “thugs” or how many people who support the extra legal hunting of an acquitted man miss the irony of supporting lynching?

    Where the real work of equality and harmony is most effective is in the day to day relationships between neighbors and professionals.

    When you get to know someone personally it is much harder to make snap judgements about who they are based on what their color is, what their language is like or what kind of sweater they wear (hoodie or cardigan).

    My father tells a story about integrated troops under his command during the Korean War. They shared shelter halves that required them to share to make a full tent. On the first night out they divided by blacks, hispanics and whites. By the third night they divided themselves by those who cleaned their socks, those who bathed and those who didn’t snore.

    Ultimately when we work and serve together we learn tat there are more important things than race or the superficial markings of popular culture.

    When evaluating the value of public figures and politicians ask yourself, “are they encouraging us to work together or separate ourselves?” To me that is the key to the value of anyone claiming to contribute to race relations.

  3. I cannot speak for America, but my family and I *celebrate* racial diversity. It is one of the reasons my husband and I chose to raise our kids in Chicago proper rather a suburb. (Between the four of us, we’re practically the United Nations: Swedish, Bohemian, Italian, Irish, Native American, African, German, Polish and Mexican.)

  4. i knew there was a racist problem in this country with the election of our current prez, white folk will vote for a black man, but a black man would not vote for a white man. with the martin/zimm deal. its just blatant racism, incredible hypocrisy, literally millions of people being played like fiddles, never mind the facts, and what are people protesting? the govt. did everything possible to get zimm and there not done yet. are they protesting our right to a trial by a jury of our peers. i will say this, i would have been ok with a manslaughter conviction , zimm to be a sacrifice just to appease the masses of the deluded.

    • First off, how can you say “a black man would not vote for a white man” when that’s the only option black people have had since gaining the right to vote? (with a few long-shot exceptions).

      As for the verdict I don’t understand how 5 white women and one hispanic women are a cross section of peers. Zimmerman started everything the moment he profiled Trayvon, stalked him, followed him, ignored police who told him not to. If he was getting his butt whipped, he deserved to but Trayvon didn’t deserve to die. He was murdered.

      • huh? to the first paragraph. did you read how that went down? martin easily evaded zimm. zimm was on his way back to his vehicle when martin confronted zimm, and zimm was on the phone when martin confronted him. how do you think it was recorded? martin asked zimm, you got a problem, zimm said no, martin said now you do, he then struck him in the face breaking his nose and laying him out, now if he had just left it that, all would be good in the hood. a perfect night cap, everybody getting what they wanted. no, martin straddle zimm mma style and started pounding is head in the pavement. eye witness saw this, 911 call shows zimm screaming for help, why couldnt martin respect the tap out? then boom. greg are you telling me, the man in the hoodie that didnt happen? are you telling me martin did not go over the line? what about the medias role n this,cant you see this whole thing is incite racial tension? you know why mlk was offed? and sharpton and jackson some how get paid by someone and always get airtime? mlk was a race uniter and latter are race dividers.

      • only option? how about the best man for the job, a man judged by his character and not his skin color, now you see the hypocrisy i mentioned. obama is loved by blacks because hes black. is it because of his stance on abortion? muslim religion, lying about the war, the 700 million bailout, the communist healthcare bill, the benghazi deal, osama farce. hey man do you know whats going on out there? tell me one thing hes done thats good for america, just one. albeit it hes just a actor, he makes no decisions on anything, its the dudes behind the curtain pulling the strings and guess what my friend? their pulling your strings as well and you cant even see it. be objective not subjective. paul simon said a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

        • The President is just as much white as he is black. He is Christian, not Muslim. A president lying about a war? LOL. How about a president lying to START a war? The President has made college accessible to students who couldn’t afford it. He has made healthcare available to all. He authorized the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. He ended the war in Iraq. He ended legal discrimination against gays in the military. He did a great job handling a national disaster in the Gulf oil spill, much better than his predecessor handled Katrina.

          As for your comments about “your race,” I would like you to read my blog again. Why does there have to be a “your race” or a “my race?” We are the human race.

          As for the Zimmerman verdict, I do find fault with young Trayvon’s decisions that night. But I don’t think fatal force was necessary. Saying someone looks to be up to no good, following them with a loaded weapon, confronting them and then firing upon them straight through the heart is at least manslaughter.

          As to the case being used to incite racial tension, I think the case gives us an opportunity to discuss race and hopefully through healthy dialogue, we will realize that we are all one people and we must start to work together and accept the entirety of who we are. Profiling and suspecting wrongdoing because of someone’s race will only lead to more pain and agony.

    • Thanks Laura. I think in order to be complete, a person needs to look in the mirror and embrace everything. The same thing applies to a nation. We are black, white, asian, hispanic, native american… We need to embrace all of those parts of our identity before we can truly reach our great destiny.