Can we talk about monuments, protests, military bases, flags?

I’ve said it in almost every way I know: we must respect and build relationships, we must work to understand and be understood, we must listen, we must walk a mile in the moccasins… I’m beginning to think I’m talking to myself. I’m reminded of a Wendy’s commercial from the 80s when the bun was big and the burger was really small. The lil’ lady kept asking “Where’s the beef?” After she got no answer, she finally decides “I don’t think there’s anybody back there!” Today I’m asking is there anybody back there? Back there at civility, at common sense, at respect for others, at tolerance and appreciation? Apparently not.

I admit I was taken aback when a Caucasian woman came to me one day and said “I don’t have any Black friends but I’d like to. Would you be my friend?” After I picked my mouth up off the floor, I smiled and said “sure.” Thus, began a rich friendship that included her learning what to do and how to act at an African American funeral. Trust me, it’s different.

With her, I had tapioca pudding for the first time—ok, the last time, too—but our differences didn’t separate us. She was a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the Confederacy. I was not. She counted General Robert E. Lee among her many relatives who were begotten from the same family tree. Not only did I not have anybody who looked like General Lee coursing through my veins, I hadn’t even discovered which plantation my ancestors came from. Yet, we became friends.

No, everything is not that simple. The road to unity and understanding is filled with Grand Canyon-sized craters but that’s why we build bridges. Whether you see the Confederate flag as hate or heritage is your right. We cannot refight the Civil War or change history.

During these months of sheltering in place, I’ve watched at least 4,000 episodes of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Lone Ranger—or so it seems, and I’m amazed at the story lines since many of these shows are old as I am.  One particular episode of The Big Valley shows son Nick having to make a journey with some Gypsies and getting a whole new perspective on prejudice and bias. Whether it’s the Native Americans who are invisible, the Asians who are discriminated against, the Latinos who gently remind us that they didn’t cross the border, the border crossed them, or the Buffalo Soldiers who pretty much demanded respect, it’s easy to hate and circle the wagons when we don’t know the “others” or “get” their difference.

When we take a moment and look around, what I’m saying is crystal clear (at least it is to me) we all want the same things–a decent job that pays enough for us to afford somewhere safe and decent to live. We all want beautiful, smart, and healthy children who go to a school where they excel and their teachers adore them. We all want to live in peace and harmony with neighbors who watch out for us and carry on conversations across the white picket fence. We all want our ancestors to be honored and remembered. If we’re speeding or being unsafe in our vehicles, we expect to see blue lights flashing but the officer who stops me and I both need to get home safely to our families.

To me, this is crystal clear. We have the power to be a great nation. It is up to us whether we act like it.

What are your views on respecting and building relationships? Share them with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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