Can’t Have it Both Ways

Recently, a report about a high school basketball team passing a watermelon around after a victory sparked outrage and was considered racism by several groups. On the news reports, leaders of these groups stated that the kids weren’t aware of the connotations of watermelon and they should be educated in black history. But wait, doesn’t that mean that young people no longer see watermelon as a symbol of racism? Isn’t that what we’ve been seeking all this time?

Why would a young person think a watermelon has anything to do with an African American or a person of color? I would think we should be celebrating finally moving past prejudice, and that our youth simply sees a watermelon as a fruit, and not a symbol of hatred. Wouldn’t it be more likely that these kids were mimicking Gallagher, the American comedian known for smashing watermelons as part of his prop comedy act? Why did we immediately scream racism?

And then to say that youth needs to be educated in black history while you erase any book, statue, flag, monument, etc., that evokes that conversation? You can’t have it both ways. You cannot erase history and then expect our youth to know about it. So many times in my life, I’ve heard the phrase “The truth will set you free”, yet the truth, when left unspoken, feeds resentment, disdain, and hatred. The truth is that we have much to learn from history, painful, ugly, and shameful as it may be. We cannot hide it and pretend it never happened. We seem to ignore the fact that there have been atrocities against many ethnicities. And I use the word ethnicity because there is but one race on Earth; the human race. A complete lesson in history includes the horrendous deaths of Jews in Nazi death camps and the 1994 Rwandan genocide. And how can we forget the savage slayings of the native Americans who flourished in this land of beauty?

At some point, we have to forgive and move on.

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