SHANNON WILLIAMS
President and General Manager
Indianapolis Recorder

I could use the entire space of this column writing about how wrong the president of the United States is for his refusal to consistently denounce neo-Nazis and other White supremacy groups, but I am not going to waste the ink. Sure, Donald Trump is wrong, but what will talking about it do at this point? He has been wrong on so many issues since taking office, yet nothing ever seems to happen to him in the form of punishment. Sadly, I don’t think his latest transgression will result in anything punitive, either.

What I will dedicate this column to is the level of sadness, anger and even fear that I feel relative to the overt levels of bias, discrimination and hatred that are ever-present in today’s America.

I feel sad because, while racism has always existed, America was progressing. We were on the right track. It was not unrealistic to feel hopeful when thinking about the future of America. But now, well, things are different.

Optimism and hope seem like far-fetched ideologies. For particular segments of the American population, the words “optimism” and “hope” have been replaced with pessimism and despair. How can a person not feel sad, angry or fearful when groups of people with hatred in their eyes and hearts gather to proclaim their supremacy — and fearlessly hurt others who are different than them or don’t share their views? What makes such instances even more concerning is when the person who holds the nation’s highest office doesn’t denounce the vile energy.

America had promise. Perhaps it still has degrees of promise, but right now it sure doesn’t feel like it. Instead, it feels like we are reverting back in time and all the strides made under former presidential administrations — Democrat and Republican — are crumbling fast.

That makes me sad. And as psychologists can attest, sadness is often a predecessor to anger.

I have never fully understood how an individual could think they are better than someone, or that they deserve more opportunities than another person, simply because of the color of one’s skin.

Perhaps it is because I am always cognizant of karma, but I never seek to deliberately hurt another person. Being mean-spirited and negative all the time and possessing that type of energy is exhausting. It angers me to see any group of people try to intentionally suppress or belittle another entity. No one has that right, and it is overly arrogant and delusional for a particular segment of the population to think they are better than any human being — no matter the gender, race, sexuality, education level, hair color or any other aspect of a person that makes them different.

I have never liked bullies or people who look down on others — it wasn’t how I was raised, and it is not in my heart to be, or to tolerate, that type of person. In regards to the White supremacists in Charlottesville, it angers me to see such hatred and disdain exhibited by them simply because others are of a different race or religion. It angers me to see such blatant resentment and disgust from them because they fear losing what they perceive as power or being the “majority” in society. It angers me that white supremacists feel so threatened by the efforts and successes of minorities that they are willing to do anything to destroy what we have fought for, earned and built ourselves.

I am also fearful of what America could become. My fear is amplified more now than ever because I am the mother of an adorable, sweet, loving and handsome 8-month-old son. He is my greatest accomplishment in life. As I look at my son, I, like most mothers, feel an overwhelming need to protect him. The reality is, however, my need to protect Nicholas is greater than my friend Melissa’s need to protect her 14-month-old son.

What is the difference?

My son is Black and Melissa’s son is White.

Melissa and I have become close friends over the past couple of years, and now that we both have sons so close in age, our friendship has grown considerably. We have very candid conversations and as of late, those conversations have been centered on white privilege. Melissa is intelligent, fun and also realistic. She knows in today’s America, her son has certain advantages because he is white. She also knows that my son will be stigmatized by some simply because of the pigmentation of his skin.

Is it fair for my Black son to be regarded as less than Melissa’s White son based on their skin color?

The answer is a strong no.

A couple of weeks ago in my column, I mentioned one way to combat racism and discrimination in this country is for all people — especially white people — to stand up against individuals who seek to disenfranchise others. Minorities can’t fight the beast alone. We can be stronger and more impactful if we have a united front with people who want to do what is right for all Americans — not just a select group.

Oftentimes when my son falls asleep in my arms, in those quiet times when everything in my world stops and I only focus on him, my mind begins to think of his future. During those times I always thank God for choosing me to be Nicholas’ mother, and then I ask God to give me strength and wisdom to do everything in my power so my son has a good life and a fair chance.

I am committed to staying the course and advocating toward progression, because my child deserves to live in that type of world.

I hope you do your part — whatever that looks like — to eliminate discrimination and suppression efforts in this country. Today I may be sad, angry and fearful; but that doesn’t mean that I am not ready or willing to stand up for what is right. I am ready now, more than ever!

SHANNON WILLIAMS @IndyRecorder

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