Now is the time to change!

Today I watched in awe as the glass ceiling was shattered by Vice-President Kamala Harris. I think she is super qualified and will make an excellent Veep. As the first woman Veep, she has broken the glass of oppression that has kept women from reaching 2nd most powerful position in the world. I suspect that the Biden-Harris relationship will be more of a partnership sharing the opportunity to lead our great country.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

What makes her story more compelling is her family and ethnic background. Sen. Kamala Harris understands what it means to be a trailblazer. Last week, she became the first Black woman to accept a major party’s nomination for vice president and the first Indian-American to appear on a presidential ticket.

In 2003, Harris became the first woman and first African-American to be elected district attorney in San Francisco. Harris was the first woman and the first Black person elected as California’s attorney general in 2010. In 2016, Harris became the first South Asian-American and the second African-American woman to serve in the United States Senate.

Harris is the daughter of immigrant parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica and India. Both of her parents attended the University of California, Berkeley, where they met and were actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. (from Yahoo News)

It is truly amazing to live in this time. I am old enough to remember the civil rights marches and the burning cities of the ’60s. I watched the National Guard stage their equipment and manpower directly across the street from my house after Dr. King’s death. There was blatant discrimination in commerce, real estate, and careers.

Yet we have work to do. My heart ached for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Dion Johnson.

For a more expansive list, see with images see Know Their Names. https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2020/know-their-names/index.html

We have to stop the killing of people of color for no reason. The disturbances across the country reminded me of the west side of Chicago burning after the assassination of Dr. King. Sadly my country was walking back the great strides we made in race relations, or at least I thought we had made.

As I listened to the inauguration’s speeches and commentary, I considered my extended family’s vast ethnic and racial complexion. My cousin’s daughter is a biracial person of color. We have Hispanic, European, and Gay members in our family. We also have a few closet racists and a few Trumpers with plenty of progressive liberals. We are America. Members of our family tree deal with aspects of life most of us never encounter. Recently she posted these thoughts on her Facebook page.

A tribute to my parents,

“Despite all of the racist encounters they have experienced being an interracial couple and the trials and tribulations they have faced raising biracial children, they have always been positive, forgiving, and taught us to turn the other cheek. It is sad to think that my father, who is the most amazing man I have ever met, he treats people with the utmost respect and is easy going and such a good-hearted person, that he would be treated as less than human and people are okay with this. That the amazing three men he and my mother raised have to bite their tongues when faced with racist comments and situations so they can hopefully make it home to tell the story. After all of the advances, we have made as a country we can’t move past this really? ♀ I was hoping that in my dad’s lifetime, he could see the change, that I wouldn’t have to sit my boys down the way our parents had to sit us down and teach us how to take abuse and turn the other cheek. No one, I mean NO ONE should ever have to teach their children this lesson. But unfortunately, I have to still teach my sons this painful truth because we can’t seem to get our shit together.”

As a white dad, all I ever said to my son is don’t get in trouble because eventually, I will find out. It was the same thing my dad said to me. His warning carried more teeth because he knew everyone in our town. The sad truth is I never had to worry about the color of my skin, my wife’s skin, or our son’s skin.

This isn’t the first time I have heard a parent of color relay a story about having to teach their kids to ignore the hatred, the racist comments, to accept the abuse by those who are so insecure they must put down anyone different. It breaks my heart that any parent or child has to worry about racism or any discrimination in this day and age. We are better than that!

This brings me back to Kamala Harris. I hope young people of color are inspired by her achievement. I pray there are girls in grade school, high school, and young women in college who are lifted up by seeing the glass ceiling break. I pray former President Obama and Vice-President Harris to inspire young men and women of color to break down the barriers and strive for influence and power positions.

Most of all, as white citizens, I pray we need to speak out when we see discrimination. We have a moral obligation to eradicate the hatred of the “other” by loving all that we meet. It is our love for each other that will heal our nation and take us to greater heights.

We will get past this era in our history. There will be a time when Dr. King’s words will be realized; “When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” (I Have A Dream. August 28, 1963)

Amanda Gorman reminded us at the inauguration that we can form a more perfect union if we are willing to see it and live it.

“So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized the revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it”

Thank you Amanda, for your inspiring words.

I close by believing now is the time. Our neighbors are aching for change and unity. We can change! We can love everyone! Yes, we can! Yes, we will!

Rev. Frank Szewczyk

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