I recall my first flight following the September 11th attacks. I flew to Texas for my late mother’s second memorial service. My father and I removed our shoes, jewelry, his belt, and we unloaded our pockets. We waited patiently as passengers were carefully screened.
Signs and intercom announcements advised everyone to report unattended packages or suitcases. We were not even permitted to leave our bags to go to the restroom. Airport authorities wanted to ensure our safety and the main thing they asked of us was to let them know if we saw an unattended package. For years, the nationwide airport slogan read: See something, say something. I heard those words again Saturday evening.
Saturday at 5:30 p.m., I headed to attend the protest on the grounds of the Corsicana Courthouse. It was calm, and inspiring. The courthouse lawn was full of people of all races who stood listening. The prominent rally speakers included Jasmine White and Kameron Betts. I was touched when Ms. Betts, her voice hoarse from the passion of her message, shared her shock when she went away to college and realized there were areas of the world where black people were not treated in the concerning ways she had experienced in her hometown of Corsicana. Those listening stood quietly listening as Ms. Betts prodded further,
“Come on, you all know what I’m talking about.”
I wanted to hear her stories so that her experience would become real to me, but she never shared them. But the nods of agreement from the black men and women standing around me, confirmed her experience. Things have happened in Corsicana.
I stood, immersed in the protest and wondered… So what do we do about it?
Protests are about change. A demand for change. The protest leaders shared what needed to change: end racism and discrimination. But how?
As Ms. Betts ended her comments, she offered a significant call to action. The same call to action requested by airports across the country in an attempt to ensure our safety.
See something, say something.
We were not called out to fight, blame, or search out the culprits. We were simply implored to speak up in our own circles. To stop turning a blind eye to race injustice. To no longer allow friends, family or coworkers to speak or act in racist or discriminatory ways. She encouraged us to start with our personal circle of influence. “If we can change Corsicana, we can change the world!”
I was impressed by the unity, the calm and the hope that things can change.
Racism and discrimination starts with our thinking. As a therapist, I help people change their thinking and in turn, change their behavior, relationships and their life outcomes. The process starts with people being open to acknowledging the possibility that their thinking may not be accurate or helpful.
I am hopeful for Corsicana. I am inspired by this next generation of black leaders. I am hopeful that those seeking change will not grow weary. I am hopeful that we will all start with ourselves and the part we have played in acting in discriminatory ways, or in not speaking up about them. Speaking up can be terrifying. It could end friendships, business relationships, or social status. But I believe it also makes us better people. As the peaceful protests ended, and all went home, I reflected on Ms. Betts’ words.
See something, say something. Change the world!
Pam C. Dudley, MSW, LCSW is a writer, stage director, social worker, and CBT certified therapist pursuing the creative life in Corsicana, Texas. She is the owner of My Write Mind, PLLC Counseling Center now offering virtual therapy sessions. She is most passionate about sharing the love of Christ, helping people heal from hurts, and writing musicals! PamCDudley@gmail.com