Updated: Feb 28, 2019
It is tough being considered as a “living artifact”, but I have decided to “own” it. Which is a good thing, because had I not done so, then the milestones of my life will likely only be portrayed in my obituary, and quite possibly, my sons won’t get it right. I want to have the opportunity for accuracy before I am gone. Time marches on, and my truths might also be replaced with a rewriting of history if I am not purposeful, or mindful and brave enough to share them myself. You see, I was born before my parent’s marriage was legal in the United States, and given my heritage of old southern legacy, I am an archetype of the worst and best aspirations of this country: the nightmare and the utopia. There are few of us who can lay claim to those inconvenient myths and truths.
I am almost 60—past the halfway point of my life, but actually living the wisest part of it now. It is now that I am peacefully able to put the little pieces of the American puzzle of “race and place” in order in a way that magnifies all of the experiences of my youth, intertwined with those of my brother’s, my family’s, and of course the broader world. Most specifically the world that I found myself in, and the means by which I made my way through it. To say the least, mine has been a fascinating journey, because my lens has made discovery even more intriguing for me. I have nourished my fascination with a coming-of-age, evolving, maturing, stakeholder’s analysis of the nonsensical impositions of these “race and place” boundaries. Oh, I daresay that they are real, but I also challenge their legitimacy for 21st century purposes.
Further, I call to question the bases of how “race and place” are disputed and resolved. Heated debates repeatedly confuse the intent of legislation with the intentionality of the heart and mind. They are not the same thing. There is a reason why systemic racism prevails, and it is because its norms are predictably confronted and addressed politically, typically from seats of power devoid of attachment. Policy has never been, and will never be, a good substitute for mending souls.
I have always envisioned a world where racism did not exist. I believe it is possible for harmony to uplift difference rather than ignore it, subjugate it, or minimize it. I know it is possible, because this is what my parents envisioned, and why I was born. I have lived this life inside my houses only. Outside my front door, all of my life, the world has been chaotic. I have always lived the question, “How could racism be eradicated in this world?” And I have also lived the answer, “Not with politics, but with values that compel society to be better than it is.”
I would love people to appreciate how the world I understand makes sense. I wrote “Affirmed” because I do believe racial healing would be transformative for society, and I can prove it. Using stories, “Life Lessons,” from my childhood throughout my adulthood experiences, I share insights that will make one gasp, laugh and think about the world differently. As a result, these examples may inspire individuals to engage differently as well—I hope so. With relationships that treasure the humanity of others and the profound choices that stem from them, I know that a racism-free world could be possible—incredible—but possible! I invite you to read “Affirmed” and to incredibly, intentionally, change the world!
"Affirmed—Life Lessons in Racial Healing and Transformation" will be available from Zebert Press on April 1st, 2019 at: https://www.sheliturner.com/