Our daughter Noor heard the “N-word” recently.
One of her fellow seven-year-olds called another seven-year-old girl the N-word in the school bathroom.
Noor asked what the N-word meant.
She asked her 11-year old brother, Ibrahim, and I what it meant.
Ibrahim got upset and said, “oh, Noor, that is a terrible word. You cannot ever use it.”
Noor got scared.
Noor likes to follow the rules.
I told her that it is a word that is hateful, mean and meant to really make African American people feel horrible.
Interestingly, Noor asked us about this on the same day that we were all going to see Hidden Figures at the movie theater.
Such an amazing film.
Those of us fighting for the civil rights of immigrants and the oppressed have no greater teacher than the struggles of African Americans.
In today’s world of identity politics, some folks tend to play the victim card.
To argue that they have it worse than anyone else.
The fact is, no group has a lock on hardship.
But Native Americans and African Americans have experienced such degrees of degradation, inequality, and oppression that what we deal with now in 2017 pales in comparison.
No matter what group we fight for.
The keys to bringing about change in 2017 can be found in the successes of the changes that African Americans brought about in the United States in the 1950s.
Changing of hearts and minds.
This post can in no way do justice to the injustice experienced by African Americans.
But movies like Roots, Selma, Hidden Figures, 12 Years a Slave and To Kill A Mockingbird help modern day children and adults to see the struggles that went on before us.
When I watched the movie yesterday, I kept getting pissed at the separate but “equal” approach to life in 1960s America.
Separate bathrooms, coffee machines and places on the bus.
Black people had to put up with so much BS.
And this was 100 years after slavery ended.
When the movie was over, we all discussed our favorite lines.
But until this morning, I forgot what my favorite scene of the movie was.
The film’s protagonist explains (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there are many ways to help bring about progress.
Her amazing brain helped us send a man into orbit, but she was continuously thwarted in achieving a full seat at the table because she was a woman and because she was black.
It is a remarkable film. When it ended, the entire theater (mostly white people) cheered.
We can all help improve the lot of our fellow Americans.
We simply have to have the will and the willingness to say no.
To take a stand.
And to fight.