Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shades of Gray

When Diahn and I set out to explore Memphis, we went here. This the hotel where Dr. King was assassinated. It's been turned into the National Civil Rights Museum.


There was a protester across the street from the hotel. I learned a new word, gentrification. Like most issues, I think I'm in the middle. It saddens me to see older parts of town abandoned and neglected but I can also see the the opposite view. The view that doesn't want to see poorer residents forced out of an area they call home because they can't afford to live there.

The protester sat their silently, making her presence known with banners and pamphlets. It made me feel guilty, because I'm white. As if I had no right to be there. Then again, maybe the guilt comes from my lack of understanding. I don't understand the struggle of the black race from a personal perspective and I cannot. But I try. Why must the focus always be on our differences? Why must we be so divided? Why can't we look at both sides of the coin and accept that there isn't always a right or wrong answer? Why can't we focus on our similarities instead, in all areas, politics, religion, race, and class? I wanted to say to her, "I've struggled to overcome, too. We are alike in more ways than we are not alike." But I didn't. Instead, I nodded in her direction and took pictures. Like a shallow tourist. Part of the problem instead of the solution.

This area of downtown Memphis is beautiful to me and I am glad that it hasn't been neglected or become an empty shell.


I'm a minority in my neighborhood. And while I can say that I haven't gone out of my way to make friends, neither have my neighbors. Mostly, my family and I get glares as if we don't belong here. That must be the same way they feel when they live in a predominantly white neighborhood.

And as our country becomes even more diversified, it seems we only become more divided instead of united. The fissures show up everywhere, the media, the workplace, the government, our families. Our society even promotes the division through talk shows and talking heads and advertising that tell us we can be better, set apart, smarter, skinnier, richer than all the rest.

Recently the President said this, Do not view everything through the lens of rivalry. It has stayed with me. I realize how many times in a given day, I do exactly that.

And I wonder...will I ever overcome? Can we overcome?

10 comments:

Brian Miller said...

yes we will..it only takes one person to reach across the divide and show the way...

Courtney Walsh said...

I loved this post. So much. And how spine-tingling to be there in that place....

I hope we do overcome. Because rivalry creates chaos and none of us need any more of that...

homekettle said...

Those were probably the most inspiring words I've heard out of Mr. Obama since he's been in office, and I'm a supporter, so that's saying something.

Joybird said...

We are a nation founded (and now populated) by sinful, messed up people. And we have the scars to prove it. But I think there is that God-image part of us that knows, this was not the plan, this division is not how it was originally supposed to be.

emily wierenga said...

oh, i love how you get to the root of it all... you're not afraid to say what matters, and you say it beautifully. thank you.

Dan Kent said...

I love the sincerity you expressed in this post, and I agree with your view wholeheartedly. Artificial divisions are useful. We are all on this road together, each with our own burdens and triumphs. And all of us are the same essentially. I like the words you quoted for President Obama, "Do not view everything through the lens of rivalry," however I do not believe that he has ever lived by those words. Ever. Finally, I love your photographs - they really capture the heart of the place.

Cathy K said...

Imagine the memories, the hopes and dreams, heartaches and heartbreaks in a place like this. And thank you for the reminder, to change up the clouded lens of rivalry and give unity a try...

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Little by little...one by one.

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Perhaps when we cease to look at the huge divisions and focus on The Bridge...reaching our hand out to the ones we see...bringing them to Him...

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Perhaps when we cease to look at the huge divisions and focus on The Bridge...reaching our hand out to the ones we see...bringing them to Him...