With over 90% of the COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. being over the age of 55+, it is a sensitive time for our parents and grandparents. The year was 1965, and your parents were infants, toddlers, or at some other childhood development stage. President Lyndon B. Johnson was working to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented people of color from exercising their right to vote.
A year prior, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which legally ended the segregation that had been institutionalized by Jim Crow laws. Born into discrimination and systemic hatred at the state and local level, how can we trust and now protect the fragile generation ahead of us? Here are a few ways we can honor them.
- Let them know you understand their history: develop ways to show empathy but a clear understanding of all that’s going on. Without casting stereotypes, you know their environment was racist, which doesn’t make them racist; it just means racism was regular because the law and society at large said so.
- Listen to their perspective & stories: this is easy; let them talk and have a keen ear for their hurt. For example, growing up in an environment where racism is open, takes a backseat to when raised in a household where alcoholism or abuse was prevalent. In other words, as discrimination is routine, it’s not as exclusive as other pain within their family or community matters that they might have met.
- Share with them your ideas & stories: this is the transcending part. Imagine Dr. Martin Luther King briefing his parents on the infamous; I Have a Dream speech or JFK explaining to his dad why he supports the civil rights movement. The point is, make sure your ideas and actions end up on the right side of history.
My company, Major Bloom, is presently collaborating with an Entrepreneurship and innovation Trainee, who took on selling some old shelves from our Worcester location. She posted the items on the Facebook marketplace, and the first buyer was a war vet and retired police officer.
Major Bloom has acquired multiple cannabis permits & licenses and is preparing to pay taxes on marijuana sales. To say the retired cop and I come from two different generations is an understatement. He proceeds to tell the story, recalling when the first few Puerto Rican families moved into the City, and he’d eventually be the first to arrest them all.
The war which he participated in overseas trained him to deploy those same tactics on his neighbors. Through the years of oppressed denial, I heard the pain in his story. The irony and synchronicity of the universe are perfect. The cannabis market is undergoing times in history we’ve seen before on the state and local levels.
But this time, we aren’t waiting for the federal government to intervene. To respect your elders is to have sympathy for their sorrows. And as the group attached between protecting history and raising the future during COVID-19, we must introduce systemic love and intention into society.