Wendy Gladney 

I recently had the courage to carve out time and watch Ava DuVernay’s latest piece, “When They See Us.” It was heart-wrenching and brought me to tears. Not just because I am a mother to a wonderful, bright and handsome Black man, but also because I am now a grandmother to a beautiful grandson (and granddaughter) that I love and pray for daily. In my prayers for them, I know there is a level of prejudice they may face, that many of their counterparts will never have to think about, simply because of the color of their skin.

As people of color, it doesn’t matter the pigmentation of our skin, or where we might live. It is a certain reality that we could be pre-judged or have bias placed upon us at any given time. Although it can be a sensitive subject, there’s a group of people that live “privileged” lives where they never even think about anything happening to them by the law just because of the color of their skin. The question this brings me to is, when will America be a land of equality for all of its citizens? Especially where everyone, no matter what their ethnicity, will be given equal justice under the law. I hope that in my lifetime, I can experience this reality for the sake of the sacrifices of my ancestors and the legacy of my future lineage.

Let me pause and say that I don’t believe all law enforcement are prejudiced or biased, but I do think the feeling still permeates in such a way that really effects the poor and immigrants. This must stop. If we, people of color, teach our children to honor and respect the law and the police, then the police must earn that respect by treating all citizens with the same respect. There must also be some sort of training that is mandated throughout the system to help break these chains that have kept us caught up in such behavior. On the flip side of the coin, I also believe there needs to be a level of responsibility and accountability by everyone to do the right thing and to be mindful of their actions. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, but also don’t provoke a situation that could bring about a negative reaction.

What must we do to bring about change? We must take off the blinders from our eyes, put on our glasses so we can see each other as human beings equal under the eyes of God. Over time there have always been people, and it usually starts with one individual, who are willing to take a stand for justice no matter the cost. What would the world look like if each of us made ourselves a party of one to start making the world a little better? There must be a conscious effort to bring about this change. Everyone is going to have to be willing to release hurt and pain from the past if there’s hope for a brighter future.

Years ago, when I was going through counseling regarding some things from my past, I remember the counselor telling me if I wanted to see a change for future generations in my family, I had to be willing to forgive and break negative cycles. It had to start with me. This was not what I wanted to hear. Why did I have to be the one to make the sacrifices to forgive others that had hurt me when I was innocent? Then I realized why not you, Wendy? Let’s all put on our glasses so we can see what role we must play to improve our families, communities, the nation and the world. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman.