Heartbreaking news is everywhere.

It’s starting to really bum me out how a small number of the world’s population can do so much harm to the psyche of the people around them.

It’s really difficult to stay positive when terrorists are beheading journalists and innocent citizens.

It’s hard to understand how anyone can engage in so much bloodshed over land they consider holy. (Holy land should be honored, not desecrated over the petty human desire to declare a land “ours.”)

It’s hard to understand why people would picket the arrival of (mostly scared) children who try to cross our borders in hopes of a better life. It’s even sadder to realize that they might not receive a better life, even if they manage to stay here.

It’s hard to acknowledge the race issues we still have in America version 2.014.

I’ll admit, I have not been following the news as closely as I use to. My anxiety gets kicked up when I watch more than an hour or so. The injustices of the world weigh heavily on my mind and there is not much I can do to ease the pain refugees feel when they have to leave their home and their families behind.

I’m going to focus on Ferguson tonight, though. I can’t imagine growing up black in America.

Just in my small corner of the world, it’s obvious that racism exists. There is an individual (or family?) flying a confederate flag just outside of town. On my Monday evening run, someone drove by with a confederate flag waving from the bed of their truck. I have a hard time believing we live in a post-racial society when I can name two instances of racism I’ve encountered in the past two weeks in a town that is hugely white. It makes me sick.

Whether the shooting in Ferguson was racially motivated or not (and I’m not saying it was or was not — there are investigations being done), racism is real. These tragedies spur a lot of heated debate and a lot of mistrust and misunderstandings.

Lets face it, the way we cover these stories is twisted.

When a white male shoots up a movie theater, people discuss how bizarre it was because he’s educated and always seemed like such a nice guy. When a black teenager is killed, they discuss his cigar theft, as if that meant his life meant less to those who loved him.

It’s bullshit. We need to change how we report on these things. We need to acknowledge that poverty is a huge part of our race problem. We need to acknowledge that there is still a race problem.

I can’t pretend to know the intricacies involved in growing up black.

I do know what it’s like growing up female. A white woman, at that. It’s ridiculous the stories people feed you as a child about being a princess, about being a lady, about remaining a virgin, about how to please a man, how our worth is dependent on how many people we sleep with, about how we’re prudes when we don’t put out, how we’re sluts when we do, to play up our assets, that we were asking for it when we do.

But then we’re told sexism isn’t real because, “I’m a woman and I’ve never encountered it.”
How? It’s everywhere!

But racism is even uglier. I can’t begin to process how many times a black child is inadvertently (or overtly) taught that they’re not worth the same as that white kid across from them on the bus. That they have to work harder, even though they’re hungry. That they have to stay in school, even though the school is underfunded and the books are falling apart. They have to apply themselves or they’re a thug, or they could sell drugs and make a good bit of money, they wouldn’t be hungry then, or they could join the crew down the block, they have guns, they’ll offer you protection from those other kids from two blocks down. That Ebonics isn’t the proper way to speak, that you must talk like the whites, though they’ll probably never fully accept you, they probably mistrust you, because that’s how the world works.

Until society does the dirty work to change the perception of this reality, we’ll be continuously having this discussion. Yes, we will have disagreements and misunderstandings, but I’ll tell you the biggest truth about good and evil.

There are good people.
There are bad people.
There are people who are a mixture of both (most of us).
Our upbringing affects it. Our socioeconomic status affects it.
Our perception of reality affects it.

Our skin color sure as hell does not.

My biggest hope is that one day, we’ll truly take on the hard work of bettering our inner cities (and other poor areas) and tackling the barriers that keep us in this “Us vs. Them” battle. It’s ridiculous the loop we play over and over.

In America. Land of the free. Home of the brave.
We should try to live up to those standards in ways outside of warfare.


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