"The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it." Chief Joseph
Today was spent putting the finishing touches on our work-- setting up the learning center and computer room in preparation for our open house tomorrow. We also toured the Emmett Till museum and learned more about his brutal murder, and the acquittal of his killers; and we had some down time to get to know each other more; share passions and opinions and enjoy yet another communal dinner prepared by Berri, our co-traveler, photographer, and chef!
I had read about Emmett Till's lynching before I arrived in Glendora but, somehow, being here and having stood on the bridge where his body was thrown into the Black Bayou, made it seem more real.
I left there feeling like I did when I had visited the concentration camp--Dachau, in Germany. Emmett Till was lynched and murdered for whistling at a white woman back in August of 1955! A mere four years before I was born, a 14 year old boy was brutally murdered-- that was bad enough, yet it was made far worse by the acquittal of his murderers and the selling of their confession to Look Magazine for $4,000.
Throughout this week, I've been thinking of the philosophy around recognition-- that the best kind of recognition is positive. Next, if you aren't recognized positively, if you get only negative feedback, at least you're being noticed. Far worse than that is being ignored. While there may only be 150-260 people living in this small, rural community, they are deserving of noticing.
How easy it is for others who have not walked in another's shoes, to judge and make assessments that have no ground in reality. People are so quick to believe the media and consider what they hear as "truth."
In coaching, we talk about assessments and assertions. Assertions-- absolute truths can only be named as such based on objectively verifiable measurement-- as in "it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit." An assessment would be "it is cold." Assessments are our opinion-- what we believe to be true at any point in time. And our opinions may change based on life experience.
If a population or community has learned helplessness from decades of oppression, we shouldn't be judging them: rather we should be looking in the mirror and asking ourselves: "how am I contributing to this situation?" If we are doing nothing, there is no denying that our inaction is a contribution.
I am in awe of PID-- and Gale Hull's vision to help those in Guatemala, Haiti, and now MS, to help themselves. She is helping them to build a sense of self-efficacy where those who choose to do so, can transform their self image of victim to that of creator. Gale had a wise observation today that giving micro-loans to those in Glendora now would not work. They don't have the confidence, nor the skills of knowing how to run a business.
Once we can help them with learning that they can improve their health through lifestyle choices; when we can encourage surrounding communities to "notice" them through wellness programs; when we can arrange for transportation and facilitate some getting their GED; and when they can access quality healthcare in a timely way, then we can start talking about supporting their micro-loans.
Of course, for those who know me-- my idea was to arrange a "walk/run" for Glendora. Stay tuned!
This will not be the end-- I will stay involved and will look forward to hearing about the positive differences being made by Joyce, and Derrick, Mario, Courtney, Ben, Desiree, Aisha, Elijah, and countless others!
Pictures: learning center and computer room