In December, I went to Ireland for a week and had an amazing time traveling throughout the country. It’s a gorgeous gem with great people and amazing beer. I went solo and I had a great time anyway. The scenery is breathtaking and I learned a lot about Ireland’s history. Here are a few pictures.
I haven’t done a lot of posts on current world events, but like most of the world I was shocked and saddened by the events that happened this week at the church in Charleston. As someone who lived a relatively short distance from the Aurora theater shooting, this incident affected me in a different way. It wasn’t the act of a deranged person, it was someone who targeted a group of people solely because of the color of their skin. Someone who knew that most people don’t carry their weapons to church and who tend to be vulnerable not only emotionally but physically as well. Race related crimes are nothing new in this country. They’ve been happening for hundreds of years and despite the assertions of many idealistic and sadly misguided persons, we don’t live in a post-racial society. The election of someone to the highest office in the country doesn’t erase the attitudes that have been over a hundred years in the making. As soon as the incident happened people began to talk about the excuses that would be made for the shooter. Just like clockwork it happened with almost all the news circuits searching high and low to find a motive that did not involve race. They painted it as an isolated incident and something that is outside of the norm. Black people have been specifically targeted and killed for long period of time and it continues to happen. Since this incident there have been more discussions about increased security measures in churches than the deeper issue of racially motivated massacres. I was reading some tweets the other day that discussed the fact that there is an expectation that black people just forgive and move on. That they continue to turn the other cheek and refuse to classify all people of a certain race into a negative category–a luxury that they’ve never had at any point in this country. It just doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t think it ever will. There’s a lot of racist people in the South, but there’s also a lot of racist people everywhere. It’s an issue that most people are either reluctant to address or stay in denial that there is one. I’ve never been an optimist and at this point I have absolutely no faith in humanity. It’s a shame.
Today is the day where social media is inundated with quotes and pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. His words, his ideals, his dreams, and his sermons had a huge influence on a generation and a people who were struggling to be viewed as equals in a country that had previously enslaved them. He spoke against injustice and painted a picture of a world where everyone is equal and we all have access to the same opportunities. There has been some progress towards that goal. Signs that declare public places are for “whites only.” have gone. There are laws that make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on the color of their skin. There’s definitely still a long way to go. I live in a city that has one of the biggest MLK parades/marches (a marade) in the country. Thousands of people attend and there’s a program at the end with music and speeches and remarks. Typically this also includes some cousin or other relative of MLK who has been flown in to make some remarks about the specialness of this day. The news stations are there and try their best to get all the shots of black people standing next to white people in solidarity and unity for a common purpose. The sad truth is that we still live in a very racially motivated society in the States. Other countries have other systems that make one group of people superior to another group. Discrimination and prejudice happens everywhere–not just in America. I think that these gestures and services and speeches and sermons are great, but what are we doing the other 364 days of the world to advocate for people who can’t do it themselves? MLK did a lot for the movement. He dedicated thousands of hours of time and money to the advancement of a cause he felt was worth fighting for. However, I was reading not too long ago that he also died without a will and his family was in dire financial straits due to the fact that he had given most of his money to the cause. His wife left a promising singing career and also devoted most of her life to the work. His children also became vocal about continuing his legacy but drew enormous salaries from the center names in his honor and mishandled funds that almost bankrupted it. They sued each other for exorbitant amounts of money and publicly disagreed with each other on the best way to preserve their father’s memory. I say all this to say that there’s a need for all of us to recognize that the only way progress can happen is that we address problems on a systemic level.