AS QUIET AS IT HAS BEEN KEPT…FACING RACISM IN SF
I woke up this morning realizing I had to write to this page. Just my thoughts and I’m and not trying to stir the pot. These recent few weeks have been intense. Past memories have surfaced.
I can’t be silent anymore.
As quiet as it’s been kept.
Last Sunday during a family call I got more details from my brothers and nephews – all who attended catholic schools in San Francisco and the Bay Area about their stories of getting stopped and frisked while driving home or wherever in SF growing up. Sometimes they were let go as soon as they stated their full name and because of their name recognition “ Toler” Were they the 1% lucky one’s sort of right. But, most people don’t have that benefit!!!
My brothers poignantly and painfully recounted the dozens and dozens of times they and/or their friends were pulled over – scrutinized intimidated and released- as if it was yesterday… My nephew stopped 14 times and counting on his way home passing through Orinda, CA. 100% of the time they were let go never cited because they were stopped for no apparent reason.
My Dad was an Educator and Police Commissioner in the city — that never stopped the racism he encountered . He continued to stand on the right side and do his best. He did not complain he just kept it in. My Mom was also an educator and a counselor in SF . We were raised on the premise that everything is possible, accepting all,treating everyone equal , the difference between right from wrong, honesty , integrity, fairness and equality and no bullying . I have multi- international in-laws , nieces ,and nephews who accept and honor their biracial identities.
Every school I attended and every job I have had I have faced racism. I use my voice. Many friends in school often told me “I see what’s going on and it’s wrong I agree but I must remain silent …”. Or You should have won for student body President but you are black so I could not vote for you.”
Every African American person I know has encountered racism at various stages of their life and every black man I know has been stopped while driving “ black”.
Try and understand the history of why the death of George Floyd exposed so much more about inequities in this world afflicting African Americans. The cork was just released from the boiling teapot.
Listen to the Rev. Al Sharpton he got it right in my opinion
Or what Kareem Abdul said:
As we move forward in this chaotic USA I’m going to live by what my parents instilled in me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend a catholic school in SF. I forged friendships that I still have today and my brothers and sisters did too.
All I’m saying to you is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Even though your life may not be affected by the plight of people of color know that we all are the mirrors for the children and they watch and repeat every
thing they see.
Last week I needed to get grounded and read some old notes and quotes my Dad wrote on Giving Children a clear sense of direction in 1971:
I see it as something for all ages.
Ten Traits of Character by Burl Toler :
1. Self- Discipline
Some of my Dad’s memorable quotes include:
• “Don’t let other people determine how you act.”
• “Do your best and your best will be good enough”
• “Do the right thing”
• “Children learn most of their first character lessons in the home”
• “If you can show me a man who has never made a mistake, I will show you a man who has never made a decision”
• “Treat people the way you want to be treated”