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?