I love the Good Morning America and Today show. I am an avid viewer and it is the first program I watch everyday. This week, Hines Ward was a guest on the show. He was there to promote an upcoming documentary he is a part of called “NFL Characters Unite” www.charactersunite.com. This documentary will air this month on the USA network so be sure to check your local listings and tune in and watch it. I encourage you to take the time to read more about it and support another worthy cause that has the same premise as “Dark Girls” but from a different point of view.
Let me give you a little background on Hines Ward. In case you do not know who he is, he plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a wide receiver and previous MVP. And for those non-football fans, he was even on Dancing with the Stars, lol. His was born in Seoul, Korea to a Korean mother and an African-American soldier. He has a fair complexion and he shared his childhood issues on the Good Morning America show of how he was discriminated against by more than one race. He did not fit in with other African-Americans because of having a Korean mother and was taunted for this fact. He also did not fit in with other Koreans because of the African-American side to him. He admitted that Caucasians often did not know how to deal with him either due his biracial background. Therefore, growing up was filled with heartache, confusion and a feeling of isolation for this now successful football player.
On the show, he had a teen accompany him from Clairton, PA by the name of Carlton Dennis. Carlton too has felt like Hines Ward all his life, as he is from Trinidad. Often called Mexican and ostracized by his own African-American race, Carlton was on the verge of self-destruction. Hines brought Carlton back from the brink of disaster and took this teen under his wing. Carlton has since turned his battle into a testimony. Carlton has now partnered with Hines to bring attention to the bigotry and hate that are still so very prevalent in our society. Carlton has even taken to the stage at his high school and created a song he wrote with Hines that addresses these issues.
Hines has not only contributed his presence and story to this documentary, he has also formed the Helping Hands Foundation http://www.hinesward.com/helping-hands-foundation.php. This foundation not only works to improve literacy to help children achieve success later in life but it also actively addresses biracial discrimination; a direct tribute to Hines’ mother.
Now for my two cents. I encourage you, just as I encouraged with “Dark Girls”, to support this documentary. I also would like for you to support his foundation. Contribute funds, take the link and distribute to your church, co-workers, family and friends. If nothing else, watch the gut wrenching videos on the Characters Unite website that provide glimpses of so many teens feeling the same pain as Hines, Carlton or myself for that matter.
It is so obvious this issue is redundant not only in the African-American community but in all communities. It is a basic lack of cultural understanding and the unwillingness to open ourselves to diversity. How long is it going to take for us to realize there is no longer a pure race? How long before we stop immediately labeling people and just get to know their backgrounds, who they are and provide acceptance? How about this even, if you cannot accept someone for who they are, just leave them the HELL alone!!! It is so basic and simple to me. Leave people alone!!! We were never meant to like everyone, understand everyone and we do not even have to accept them but we damn sure better start respecting the differences that exist.
If you are too lazy to learn the cultural differences between you and another, once again, you have that beautiful thing called freedom of choice, which basically allows you to keep it moving!!!!!! Let me repeat that so I am clear. Keep it moving if you are too lazy to embrace diversity!!! It is fine to live in a world of illusion created all your own but it becomes an issue when your lack of reality causes harm, hurt and emotional distress to another all simply because you believe that ignorance is bliss.
It is far past time for us to promote basic humanity. It angers me that we still have to call attention to these issues. And to my African-American brothers and sisters, remember that those of us who are racially mixed did not ask to be born that way but these onslaught of documentaries show that we are not going to be made to feel embarrassed by it either. Also, remember that the majority of us are not only proud of being African-American but we are also going to embrace, promote and be proud of that other culture that is a part of us. Like it or not, being African-American is not all-encompassing and the majority of us have another culture that deserves attention, appreciate and respect.
I am very proud of being part Native American, truly!! No, my Native American heritage is not far down the line or claimed because it sounds cool. I have a mother, aunts and uncles who were born and raised on the reservation. Yes, they grew up there and I still have family there. My mother made it very clear at a young age that our heritage was important on both sides. I remember her assisting me with book reports not only on African-American culture but also on my Native American background. I am instilling these very same values into my own two children and I have a husband who has studied my Native American background more than I have.
Once again, thank you to Hines Ward for opening this dialogue again for me and enlightening me with an entirely new cultural experience and perspective as opposed to simply the light-skinned versus dark skin issue.
Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!!