Wandering eyes of innocence in need of role models
Article and artwork by Courtney M. Cox
Special 'Thank you' to Tiara Andress
We were all children at one point. We all had "grown-ups" in our lives that we looked up to. Right now, we are those "grown-ups" and children, upcoming generations, they need us more than ever. The actions and the voices we choose to enhance in this time are so crucial in molding the absorbing young minds of kids. Children are so innocent and so fragile, the things they are inevitably being exposed to right now need a "grown-up" explanation.
I created this image in my head one day after exhausting myself on headlines and news clips. The image started as two innocent kids, but quickly my vision turned sad with anger and destruction. However, despite the chaos around them, there was hope in the simple comfort that two children found in each other. So, I decided to create a short story to go along with it and I hope it resonates with you in some way. Here it is:
There once was a girl and a boy whom were blinded by love in their growing friendship. They did not see each other for the color of their skin, but rather for what they really were—best friends.
As the girl and the boy grew older, the girl noticed her friend getting picked on for the color of his skin. She never let the bullies get very far though. And when she demanded they apologize to the boy, they would listen and do as she told them. Although the boy appreciated the girl protecting him, he wished he could stand up for himself without getting suspended. No matter the bruises on his body or the black eyes swollen shut, it would always be deemed his fault.
The girl and the boy went their separate ways in college, but always stayed in touch. She didn’t have the best grades, but probably had the best social life of the two. Meanwhile, the boy had, without doubt, a bright future with his exceptional GPA. But when it came to job opportunities, the boy was happy for, but couldn’t quite grasp how, the girl was getting interview after interview, and call back after call back, while he was fighting for the chance at just one meaningful interview---one where someone would actually engage with him and not just throw in occasional head nods.
When the girl got her dream job and the boy got an assistant role to the same employer, he approached her about it. He asked her, “Do you know what white privilege is?” And she looked confused. He said “Well, you’ve got it. You’ve had it your whole life. You had it when you stood up for me in high school and you have it now, in the job we both worked hard for, but we both know I earned. Look around you, I’m the only black person at this company and look where they’ve placed me.” The statistics were against her and the truth was, she knew he was beyond qualified for the position they hired him for. “I’m black, and they hired me solely for that purpose, so that this can be considered an ‘equal’ and ‘diverse’ work place,” he said. The girl didn’t know how to respond. She felt his words as a cold unjustifiable truth.
The boss approached the boy hard at work one morning, “You’re fired,” he said. The girl overheard this and immediately butted in, “How can you fire him? He’s done nothing wrong?” The boss replied uneasy, “We just feel his performance has been poor, and so we’re letting him go.” She took one look at the boy and looked at her boss and said, “If he’s fired, then I quit. You and I both know he could do both our jobs combined if he wanted. And I’m not going to work one more second for a business that can’t see past the color of someone’s skin.”
They walked out, the girl and the boy. He smiled at her and she reached for his hand. "Wherever you go, I’m standing with you; whatever you need, I’ll help you get it; whoever you’re fighting against, I’ll give you my voice to raise yours.”
A dear friend, past co-worker, woman of the black community and helpful contributor to this short story, reminded me of a very special and honorable quote, "Be the person you needed when you were a child." Thank you Tiara Andress for that beautiful reminder and for helping me use my voice and creativity to raise awareness to #blacklivesmatter. We have to be better than the ones who raised us; we have to work harder at educating ourselves; we have to be able to be held accountable for the wrongs, and work to make them right; we have to lead by example and lead by being anti-racist.