Growth opportunities

It’s been about 15 years since I left Clinton County, a place that will always be a part of me … also a place that was not relocated from the confederacy.

Strange, but I’d seen plenty of confederate flags in the area growing up and wanted to point out the distinction for the geographically-historically challenged.

Since leaving Pennsylvania, I’ve lived overseas and in a handful of other states.

One thing it has taught me is that we live in a beautiful world — a world filled with color and culture that are uniquely beautiful in their own way. Serving in the military, I’ve seen how truly special diversity is when it comes to folks from all walks of life coming together for a common good. I feel honored to have seen diversity in action because I didn’t always have that opportunity.

Growing up in Renovo, I can honestly say I don’t remember ever interacting with someone outside my race.

It’s not that I was afraid or against it, I just didn’t have that opportunity.

One thing I do remember is somewhere around fourth grade, my best friend’s parents were remodeling their home and told us we could graffiti under where the new dry wall was going up. I chose to write excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Was I some sort of future activist?

No, I was just a kid who was inspired to love my fellow human not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Despite this idol as a kid, I am not innocent when it comes to having used racial slurs to friends when cracking jokes in high school. It was never directed at anyone I’d known personally, but it’s just as terrible.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college and my first roommate was a black student. I’m sure my unconscious biases took over and I already had ideas on how our relationship would be.

They were quickly laid to rest and we hit it off immediately. Within that semester we had both visited each other’s homes and became like brothers.

To this day, we keep in touch and I’m a better man for having met him in my late teens. He helped me shape my world view at such an impressionable point in my life and I’m forever grateful to him.

Black Lives Matter. There, I said it.

One more time for the folks in the back, Black Lives Matter.

I see the rebuttals on postings to this very simple statement, and it saddens me.

When the young folks from the area see this type of filth, they are learning from you to perpetuate this hatred. They aren’t born racist, they’re insulated from the real (diverse) world and taught that accepting this behavior is ok.

If you walk past it, you condone it.

You’re denying your children/grandchildren/future generations of kids from Central Pennsylvania the opportunity to succeed in life. You are failing them.

The world is ever-changing and becoming more globalized by the minute and if you don’t teach them that ALL men/women are created equal, then you are setting them up for failure.

If you truly want to make America great again, accepting the phrase Black Lives Matter for what it is and providing this growth opportunity to future generations is a damn good start.


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