Remember the Tina Turner hit, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” In the lyrics, love is referred to as a “second-hand emotion.” That song popped into my head as I watch what is happening to our country.
Love has got a lot to do with it and, unfortunately, it seems to be a second-hand emotion these days — second to a lot of hate. We see that hate on television, hear about it on the radio, read about it in the newspaper and watch as hate is fanned with irresponsible social media postings.
Hate seems to have gotten its impetus from well-publicized examples of highly questionable police tactics and spread into something approaching anarchy in cities across the nation. Some people are demanding law enforcement agencies be defunded. Others wonder how we can stop the rioting and looting without the police.
Kneeling at the playing of our national anthem is seen as a heroic gesture by some and patently disrespectful by others. We hear that Black lives matter — and they do — but many whites perceive that statement as a wholesale indictment of all white people who, in turn, wonder why no one brings up the killing fields in places like Chicago, where Blacks are killing other Blacks in alarming numbers.
Yet, many white people don’t seem to understand or appreciate the inherent frustration of Blacks. I can’t imagine how I would feel today had I grown up watching parents that I loved dearly having to sit in the back of the bus, be denied service in a restaurant because of the color of their skin, serving their country in war and yet being prohibited from voting when they returned. Many would say we are long past those days, others would say we have a long way to go.
As for this day, we seem to be at an impasse in race relations in this country. We aren’t talking to each other. We are yelling. It is only going to get worse as election time nears and politicians pander to their supporters on either side of the racial divide.
What is keeping us from reaching out to each other? Arnie Sidman, former senior vice president at RJR Nabisco and an Atlanta tax attorney is author of “From Race to Renewal: It’s Not All Black & White.” In a recent opinion piece in the Atlanta newspapers, he says, “Any plan to improve race relations between Black Americans and white Americans must be voluntarily implemented outside the political realm” and that “the initial goal should simply be making Blacks and whites more comfortable with one another in a social setting.” If we get to know each other up-close-and-personal, we might find out we have more in common than we realize.
Sidman suggests that white churches and black churches pair up with an agreed-upon minimum number of congregational pairs that could meet and “discuss family stories and items of mutual interest or concern in a less threatening and confrontational medium than protest marches.”
I could not agree more. My Christian faith espouses that we love everyone. So, why don’t we? The answer is that churches — Black and white — are composed of human beings who bring their prejudices in on Sunday, hear a rip-roaring sermon about turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, getting the mote out of our own eye and then revert back to business as usual on Monday. Sadly, I speak from experience. My own.
If our houses of worship aren’t willing to make the effort, who can?
I believe racism is a learned behavior. I have told the story previously of our Birthday Bash last November where great-grandson Cameron Charles Yarbrough and I celebrate our respective birthdays with family and friends.
As everyone was preparing to leave, 5-year-old Hayden and 4-year-old Kayden gave each other a big hug. Hayden is my great-granddaughter. She is white. Kayden is the grandson of Carla, who has been an important part of our family for the past year. Kayden is Black. Obviously, neither of them seemed aware of their differences and just as obviously, didn’t care.
Over the coming years, will they learn to hate and distrust each other? If so, our society is going to have to teach them that. I pray that they and their generation will find a better way to deal with their disagreements than what I am seeing today. We can’t continue down this path of self-destruction and survive. What’s love got to do with it? Everything.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.