As we say goodbye to this year, many mixed emotions go through my head about the roller coaster of the last 12 months. I started thinking about the lessons learned in 2016 that can serve me as a guide moving forward, both at a personal level as well as in terms of the work that needs to be done to promote multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion as we enter a challenging time in our country.
My sister Evelyn and I don’t see eye-to-eye often, and although we agree on the need for a diverse society that brings harmony, we come to this agreement from two different perspectives and needs. The other day we were talking about a phenomenon that is happening in her church, about lessons learned in 2016 by their community as there has been a division within her church due to the results of the election.
Similarly to what has happened in the country, the church community has been split in two, betweens those who felt they won or the lost in the last election. For those who won, they have been feeling that they are viewed as “bad” for their choice and they have started some groups to start reconciliation among the members. When it was time for her to talk about her feelings as a woman of color she told them something that makes total sense but that I hadn’t really thought about.
My sister’s response was not about her experiences as a Latina woman in the United States, but as a mom of two white children who is concerned about how they are going to be viewed by others and how she can not only contribute by raising them well, but by bridging the gaps that separate us all by having the difficult conversations. The love of her children is what moves her; simple, yet a powerful realization.
Here are the 3 lessons learned in 2016
Love is THE reason. Even when my sister and I disagree on many things, and my children will experience these social conflicts different than her children, just because of the way they look. In the end, it doesn’t matter. We both are committed to a diverse, multicultural society, and we both want this out of love for our children, for a better future for them, and other children who today have nothing but love in their hearts and can grow to be those types of adults. Maybe it sounds cliché or cheese, but we know that children have no prejudices or hate, it is in the way we shape them with experiences and with our own set of beliefs and actions. In this trying time, more than ever, we have to continue to spread love and understanding. Dr. King said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
We will be okay, not silent. Worrying about the future is something we’ve done a lot this year, at least I know I have. But if we look back to history, we can recognize that although we will be experiencing a challenging time, we are also at a breaking point in our history, in which we need to be confident that there are many more people who share our values, that are willing to see us as equals, as humans who share struggles, dreams and aspirations, as people who want peace. There would be challenges, yes, but we will be okay, we are going to fight the good fight for what is right and create a change for the better.
Be alert and rise up to the situation. You probably have watched at least one video of people being bullied, harassed or even attacked. I haven’t been in that type of situation, and many times I wonder what would I do? I experience the same outrage about the people doing those things as I do about the people who simply hit record and doesn’t speak up to defend another human being. I like to believe that not everyone is careless, that there are other people that feel the urge to speak up, but for what we seen, it doesn’t look like that. It is my theory that for some people confrontation is not an option, depending on the situation they might be even scare to intervene, others probably can’t even think quick enough. This is one of the lessons learned in 2016; I’ll be alert and mindful in case I’m a witness of such thing, making sure I can stand on the side of justice and either speak up, or call the police if I see something dangerous happening.
I hope you had time to reflect on what you learn and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2017!
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