It’s Not About Color; It’s About Survival

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Burrr! It’s cold outside. The Weather Channel issued a plant and pet warning with temperatures in the low teens. I decided I had too much invested in my porch plants to let the cold destroy them. I threw on a coat and grabbed a couple of covers to keep them warm. I may be wrong; but those plants looked like they were waiting for me to rescue them from the cold. The leaves had begun to droop. Old folks used to say if you talk to the plants, they thrive better. Well, last night was not a night for plant talking. I did tell them y’all better be glad I am home ‘cause y’all would be on your own or headed to the plant cemetery.

The icy cold weather met me at the door. I made a hurried decision. Do I leave the plants uncovered and replace them in the spring or face the cold head on and risk getting pneumonia? I decided to face the cold and was I surprised. The weatherman was not exaggerating. It was cold!

My thoughts immediately turned to the homeless. What’s going to happen to them? Where are they going to stay? It’s times like these that you really appreciate having a roof over your head. It’s no joke not knowing where your next meal is coming from or whether your family will have heat. Instead of squabbling over building a wall, this country needs to do more in building relationships. We have bigger fish to fry.

I thought I would begin this week by focusing on plant life and how fragile it is to get your attention; but are humans any less fragile? Figuratively speaking, as humans we need to be sheltered from the cold. There are those among us who have been left outside in the cold far too long. We need to be brought indoors for protection. We need to have a seat at the table of opportunity in these United States of America.

When the temperatures are predicted to fall below freezing, immediately we focus on the elderly, pets and plants—the most vulnerable among us. And, so it is with life. Why do we have to wait until there is a crisis to come together? When will we overcome bigotry that permeates our society and keeps “humans” divided? There are no “white” people and “black” people. People are human beings. We are born into this world the same way, breathe the same breath, bleed the same blood and leave the same way through death. White and Black are simply colors. They have become references only to divide and decree superiority and inferiority. With this being the case, how did “white” become the superior race?

Today, I watched celebrations of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. People of all ethnicities were linking arms together as they marched in parades and spoke at ecumenical services. My thoughts turned to the realities of tomorrow. What will happen tomorrow? Will people embrace each other at work tomorrow? Will they sit across the table, look you in the eyes, and deny you a mortgage loan although you may qualify? Will they continue to enslave you? Or, will these same oppressors, continue to distort history to minimize the significant achievements of African Americans?

Like the weatherman, I wish to issue a stern warning. Black folk has been treated less than human and it’s time to bring them in out of the cold. It’s time to stop treating Black folk like they fell to the earth from another planet. Like plants, you can’t leave folks outside without covering them up with basic necessities—food, shelter and clothing. When you leave folks out in the cold too long, they die. When folks are jobless and can’t afford food, they die. And, when you leave folks out in the cold without cover, they either die or become killers. And, to colorless “White America” you wonder why crime is out of control in black communities. You failed to bring us in out of the cold and cover us up. It’s not about color. It’s about survival.

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