Our vision is to have Whites and Blacks become friends!
To walk down the street together. To go shopping together, have each other over to their home for dinner or just coffee. To live together in the same neighborhood. Go to the same church. Have their children go to the same schools and bring their playmates, regardless of skin color home to meet mom and dad and (heaven forbid) even date each other in high school! Gad – what a thought!!
But to get to this point requires work. It requires dedication. It requires patience and knowledge.
It requires “walking in the other guys shoes, getting into his skin – until you know his/her life.
Some years back when I was still in practice and just finding out about the lack of integration in Sedalia, Mo. and quite stunned about their not being any black construction workers on the huge Furnell Building that was being built next to my Office, I began to seriously study and make displays of the History of Slavery, its horrible existence, racism, the Civil War and the whole nine yards. This was quite a project as I was even more computer illiterate then than I am now, but I always loved to read and research and with patient secretaries to put up with me, we got it done and posted the displays up and down the halls, on the doors and wherever we could.
My hope then was to display it in the Court House, across the street from my Office. I knew there were rotating exhibits in the vestibule area and hopefully this would provide some much needed enlightenment, I thought, of folks who came into the Court House.
The Displays, however, were under the jurisdiction of a Committee who decided upon their worthiness (or whatever?) to be so exhibited. When I applied to this Committee, I heard nothing. So then I started telephoning. Several came over, made appropriate remarks but said the decision to display or not display was up to the Chairman.
The Chairman did come over with a large notepad and pen, and noticeably anxious, took notes and said nothing. I heard nothing. Days went by and I called. I was told they wanted “positive displays”. He was not interested in my rebuttal.
As I think back on all that, I believe that is what is holding us back now to become truly integrated, friends and all citizens of the U. S., equal under the law and innocent until proven guilty. We don’t want to hear the truth. Nor are we interested in rebuttal.
You don’t get rid of “bad stuff” by sweeping it under the rug and pretending it didn’t happen. It did happen. We were all there (or our ancestors). We need to face up to it, talk about the horrors and in so doing – heal!!
When someone goes through a horrible experience, we don’t say, “Oh don’t think about that, it’s over now. You’re fine”. No, we usually are receptive to hearing about it, listen with acceptance and let the person talk as in the ever-recurring school shootings. (We are really getting pretty good at comforting people in that realm , sad to say!)
That is what we need to do with slavery, the whole Negro Holocaust, racism, lynchings, the Jim Crow years. Let Blacks talk about the horror. Listen respectfully. They are trusting you with powerful information!! That was their life – or the lives of their grandparents! Don’t shush them up and say it’s all over now. It’s not all over now. It’s in their history. As it would still be in my history if my father had been burned to death/lynched on the schoolhouse roof as a black was doused with gasoline and set on fire who purportedly had raped the white school teacher in Maryville, Mo. in 1931. That was the year I was born! You don’t just get over that! You hopefully learn to live with it, if allowed to talk about it and heal from it enough to live. Whites need to encourage and let Blacks talk about their own history. Only then will they (and also us) be truly free. (Thanks for letting me rant on!!) – Marge
An excellent place to start is to read and absorb a relatively new diagnosis that is being seriously considered to be included in the DSMV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, 5th Edition) that says it all,” is Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”.
You think as a white, you know what blacks have gone through – you probably haven’t a clue. This Syndrome will help you, if you give it serious thought.
It is like the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which most of us have heard about. However in the case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the soldier usually comes home to a loving environment that gently helps nourish him back to health. In the case of the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, that wasn’t exactly the case. We all carry our history. It seldom goes away. In 1931 a Black man was chained to a school house roof in Maryville, Mo. and set on fire to burn to death for the supposed rape/murder of the white school teacher. 1931 was my year of my birth. I would never forget that if that had been my father burned to death. You better believe I would never forget it.
Why then do we think Blacks can just get over what we have done to them? That is outrageous.
Post Traumatic Slave Disorder is very incapacitating. Discouragement, depression, low self-esteem, lack of power (that a gun will handle) and a fatalistic mode of thinking can paralyze an individual, destroy a community and lead to a life of crime and despair creating fatherless families and poverty for all. Something is wrong in the Black population. Prison numbers tell us that.
Other specifics are difficulty trusting others, and rage in dealing with ongoing hostility, discrimination and lack of justice. Rage often expressed towards ones “black brothers”. Fear and despair are often present, but rage is paramount.
How can people help with this Vision to Heal the Races
Finances are a big priority. At the present time, we do not have any grants, funds of any kind other than some donations. We have recently attained 501c3 designation and have done local fund raising through a letter writing campaign and obtained some funds through that. Some service clubs as Rotary where Marge is the first woman member have helped.
An on-going funding endeavor is for people to become a friend of the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library at $15.00 for individual membership and $25.00 for a couple/family and $l00/500 for business, corporations.
At the present time, utilities, trash pick-up, water, gas, electric, wi-fi etc. run about $400.00 monthly and these are taken from my personal bank account.
And of course there are the needs of the landscape, garden tilling, weeding, and mowing.
If people don’t volunteer (and most have busy lives) someone must be hired or weeds would over take it all.
My late husband and I probably have invested $100,000 in the buildings and property.
It has been and continues to be “a labor or love” though we need to find some way to make it self sustaining.
Thanks for whatever you can do,
– Marge Harlan, retired Psychologist and Founder for the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library