I came across this story last month and filed it away. I wanted to share and comment but didn’t initially have the right words. Last night I (finally) watched the movie The Butler. And there they were – the words I wanted to write.
Two powerful lessons revealed themselves both in the story about Mr. Rogers and Mr. Clemmons and in The Butler. Lessons that I hope we will all consider, share, and let influence our perspective and actions.
- Mistrust is built through life experiences and continued systemic racism.
Think about the effort it takes to trust again when your heart is broken, when you feel betrayed, hurt, or mislead by someone. Now, consider this on the grand scale that African Americans (or other minority groups) have experienced. Mistrust must be healed with patience, understanding and real work that earns trust.
- Servitude is a powerful weapon.
I saw this in The Butler and I recognized it in the article referenced above. Servitude is a powerful weapon. It not only spreads compassion, hope and love; it battles ignorance, hate, and mistrust.
We must all find our own ways to support healing and rebuild trust in our communities, schools, and homes. I encourage you not to shy away from these efforts. It might not always be easy or feel good, but hard work usually isn’t and usually doesn’t. Undoing hundreds of years of mistrust is hard work.
Even better, if your efforts include servitude you will be wielding a powerful weapon in the battle for healthy, happy, just, and inclusive communities.