This week, Charli Mills challenged us to write a story that tackles racism. I have to admit that 99 words is not enough to even scratch the surface.
“Remember the rules, girls. Cover your hair, cover your arms and legs.”
“Yes, Ms. Johnson,” they said in unison.
“You don’t want to offend anyone.”
“Yes, Ms. Johnson.”
“When you return, you may remove the coverings when you are inside the safe space, but remember you must be quiet and not disturb the white peace.”
“Yes, Ms. Johnson.”
One of the girls, not dressed in the coverings, raised her hand.
“Yes, Lesli, what is it?”
“I don’t want to cover my beautiful hair or my black arms or black legs. I don’t want to be quiet and not disturb.”
There is so much that I wish to write, but I feel ill equipped. I must say this, though: I understand the people of Baltimore. Racism, lack of justice for black lives, inequality, mistreatment, silencing, exclusion, and other practices are occurring every day.
Those of us living with white privilege do not know the experiences of those of other skin colors, but there are things we can do. The first step is to admit there is a problem. We need to listen, because there already is a solution.
The scars of mistreatment, to put it gently, run deep. There is a molecular memory of past wrongdoings. No one is without guilt, but we can repair. We can learn to love. We can learn to live in harmony, with understanding. I believe it all possible.
The riots in the U.S. give me hope. People can unite. Change can happen. Sometimes changes can or need to be violent or chaotic.
There is so much pain and hate, which unfortunately can bring about violence. There is a truth in it all: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
April 29, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that tackles racism. Think about common ground, about the things that rip us apart as humans. How we can recover our identities in a way that honors the identities of all individuals? What breaks the barrier of other-ness? Imagine a better tomorrow that doesn’t need expression in riots or taking sides on social media. As writers, think about genres, characters, tension and twists. We can rebuild.
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