Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Parents Just Don't Understand

Perhaps DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince said it best when they claimed that, "Parents just don't understand."

I also hold strongly to my mother's old school statements of, "Don't talk about it, be about it" and, "Talk is cheap."

And now it seems that in my attempts to "be about it", my mother simply does not understand. She does not understand my heart for activisim and struggling for positive change.

She thinks it's great when I go to leadership conferences that teach me how to be a more effective leader in my community and campus. In fact, she sitting on the couch together and listening to my recounts of workshops on self improvement, career builiding and being a role model. Oh, and she loves hearing about those inspirational speakers.

She was also proud of 'her baby' when I went on the Civil Rights Movement Trip to Memphis. I told her how we not only dealt with the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's, but also with women's rights, gay rights, disability rights, and human rights. How we went to the National Civil Rights Movement Museum and I saw accounts of individuals who fought for the very same freedoms that I take for granted on a daily basis. I thought of slaves who taught themselves how to read, defying their master's rules, and who shared their knowledge with those who were willing to learn. I thought of Booker T. Washington and WEB DuBois and their efforts to improve the 'race problem' with education and hard work. I read stories of innocent victims and those who were victims for the cause. When I walked into a segregated bus simulation and sat down, I wondered what it would have been like to hear, "Get out of that seat nigger" from some White man with authority screaming at me. I wondered if I would have stayed in my seat, or if I would have sat there in the first place. I wondered if I would have just eaten lunch in 'my place', or if I would have challenged that structure and risked insults, injury, and my clean criminal record.

She loved that I was inspired. She also enjoys having debates about issues concerning race, global issues, capitalism, and immigration issues, although we almost always disagree.

But she doesn't understand. She doesn't understand that something can be done about the problems presented by the world we live in, which shocks me considering that she was born in the 60's. She knows all the stories. She can vote now and uses the same water fountains as white people do. She knows that it wasn't always that way.

But she says that no change really happened. "All that protesting," she says, "what good does it do? How do you know if you'll actually make a change?" She insists that no significant change has been made since racism still exists and Whites still have privilege. People are still arrested, killed, denied jobs, etc. due to racial reasons.

Apparently all of that Civil Rights hoopla was for nothing, but I just cannot accept that.

Neither can I accept seeing problems such as CocaCola and Wal*Mart raping nations just to procreate more cash to line their pockets and leaving those nations naked in the dust. Perhaps I should do nothing about it, because what will protesting do? What good would it do to stage a silent protest of CocaCola's injustices during my university's 150th Anniversary's Founder's Day?

What good did it do to bring Blacks to the polls knowing that they wouldn't be able to vote anyway (well, maybe if they knew how many bubbles were in a bar of soap) and could possibly lose thier jobs? Perhaps it was absurd, becuause I'll admit, I didn't vote in this last election for the governor.

And the threat of jail, "Elizabeth, if they lock you up you'll only be playing into their system. They love to see our black people in jail." I guess I should just stop when they say stop. "I's sorry Mista Offissa Suh, I's didn't mean ta make nobodys mad. I's gone take my sign hea and mosey on. I's sho is sorry Mista Offissa Suh." Why should I play into their system of locking Blacks up when I can just back down at their request. Now THAT'S fighting the man!

My mother may not always agree with my 'radical' (btw, Angela Davis is coming to speak at Wesleyan, you know I'm SO THERE!!!) viewpoints or my attempts at activism. Perhaps she doesn't understand, or will never understand. I guess its just taking another one for the cause(s).