Building Resilience with Children During Racial Discrimination & Violence:
This attached Resilience Brief for Children has been the hardest one I have written yet. I have been an active advocate for the equal treatment of people from all backgrounds, religions, ethnic heritages, orientations, and families my entire life. It is hard to see the pain present today, not only due to COVID19 but also due to the harm and anger we see daily in the news. I want to share a story about the person who sponsored Dr. Rodney Hammond (one of our resilience guests this week) as the first black Ph.D. school psychology student at Florida State University:
I stood there as a very young child, holding my civil rights activist father's hand. He needed to use the bathroom at a gas station. We walked back & stopped. He pointed to a word painted in black across the crown of a clean white door set in a white cinderblock wall. He said, "Machelle, what does that say?" I confidently exclaimed, "men!" He pointed to a word above another door. "What does that say?" I was confused, I could see the letters "m.e.n." again, but something more. He gently said, "women." Again he softly asked as he pointed to the middle sign with a more dilapidated door and a filthy bathroom, "what does that say, Machelle?" This time, my little brain just didn't know. He solemnly said, "colored... Machelle, Never forget this. Because if you never forget this, it will never happen again." Then, he walked into the middle one. As I waited, the entire time, with a furrowed brow, I looked at each one reciting, "Men, women, colored, men... I never forgot.
So, when I knew what needed to be written next, I went back to Dr. Hammond. I can't remember a time not knowing this amazing leader. Our phone interview was a reunion that strengthened my very core. When I was young as I heard the adults talking hopefully about the future, he looked, to me, like Morgan Freeman on Electric Company. I thought then, as I know now for a fact, that I was in the presence of someone special. I am deeply grateful for the leap of faith he made to come to FSU, and in strength, help myriad others, writing, directing films, researching, and moving on to the CDC as director of violence prevention. His life and writings have changed mine.
Although I was deeply discouraged at the vitriol I saw on the news of our black Americans in pain, I found my resilience in people like Dr. Rodney Hammond, Dr. Latricia Scriven, and Dr. Andre Thomas, fighting to help keep the culture, children, and families safe. I am very grateful for their contributions to our Resilience Brief 9. Because of them, I am energized and renewed. In solidarity, we can keep moving forward. We can keep loving everyone. We can keep living, teaching, writing, and creating peace. There are so many of us on the side of ethical altruism. Together, we will make a difference.