Today I am dedicating this little space of mine to invite a discussion regarding Donald Earl Collins’s opinion piece on Al Jazeera.
Have Black Historians Been Wrong All Along? (Click the link to view the original article)
I have read and watched a lot of opinion pieces over the last few weeks as yet another swell of race talk has been visited upon our nation. I don’t mind admitting to you all that it has all left me a bit raw.
I was born a U.S. citizen the same as my mother and her mother, and her mother before her. However, that mother on the next branch of my family tree was born into a world that did not acknowledge her as a U.S. citizen because the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution didn’t happen until July 9, 1868. The full citizen rights of my matriarch line were not recognized until August 6, 1965. That means I am the first woman in my direct line to be BORN with the full rights afforded to U.S. citizens.
Having trouble with that math? Let me help you out.
While the 15th Amendment was adopted on February 3, 1870 with the intention of allowing African Americans to vote, this right was not afforded to African American women.
And while the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was adopted on August 18, 1920, there were by this time legal barriers at state and local levels that continued to deny voting rights to then my great grandmother and later my grandmother who both lived out their lives in Georgia.
It wasn’t until August 6, 1965 that the women in my family were guaranteed their full right to vote under the law.
And in that time those women worked hard and raised children and improved their communities through church and civic activities. From those women came productive citizens who have paid into social security and the tax system. From those women came soldiers and law enforcement officers who have put their lives at risk to protect this country. Those women created art, passed knowledge on to children who went on to achieve great things and many “firsts” in their respective fields.
The knowledge of these things makes me a little raw in the face of all this race talk. You all have had a chance to read my last several posts about the importance of Affirmative Action programs and the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities as places where anyone, but especially African Americans, can learn their full history. Now I am going to say this as clearly as I can.
I don’t hate “white” people. I can’t hate my brothers and sisters. Set aside the fact that a third of my DNA comes from European ancestors. I also profess a Christian life, therefore I cannot hate other people period.
I am not interested in any narrative or rhetoric that encourages an us versus them call to action. The healing we need in this nation is an us and us kind of work. And you know what, plenty of black and white folks have figured out how to get along and work alongside one another even in the face of different political ideologies. We MUST remember that.
I also accept that some people may never accept the values of fairness and equity and for them I will continue to pray because they are actively choosing a limited and bland existence that will eventually leave them behind as the rest of us move forward.
I am curious as to what thoughts Collins’s piece sparks for you. Leave me a comment and let’s talk/type it out.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Lubbock, Texas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.