We create our own reality through our fears and hatreds and our hopes and dreams.
I have found in a lifetime of experience how to best eliminate the negatives and exploit the positives. The reality in which I live is the idyllic Eden, Heaven on Earth, with its wildlife preserves, forested backyard, spacious home, and yet it neighbors those my wife and I “despise.” It’s our own prejudices that we are overcoming.
We recently made our home here in Durham. We have multiple degrees, however, from that university down the street, UNC. We have “hated” dook since childhood. To find our “forever home” here, in the pocket of such prejudice against our first public university, has made life dually interesting. (Best believe I thoroughly enjoyed putting up a big banner, with UNC as NCAA National Basketball Champions, in front of my home, this past year.)
Amazingly here, we are seeing a renaissance for change.
Confederate statues and old mindsets are being torn down. We are awakening to the reality that old fears and hatreds are wrong and need to be eradicated with education. Only when we reflect on our past, see our mistakes, correct them, and move forward can we be assured we are on a better trajectory.
In an effort to properly know about our own history, my wife and I took some DNA tests. We signed up with the prolific ancestry sites to see what may have been. I am astounded by our discoveries.
Our kin go back to the first boats to arrive in America. They jumped off, grabbed some land; and everyone else moved onward, westward. My wife and I grew up in eastern North Carolina, Bladen/Cumberland counties, where racism is rife, with “Strange Fruit” still swinging from trees! (In 2014 a young man, Lennon Lacy, was lynched 10 miles from where I grew up. They “ruled” it a “suicide,” even though it was mathematically and physically impossible.)
My father was a sharecropper’s son, who “done good,” with that entrepreneurial spirit he instilled in me. I grew up in a racist household, because it was taught them by their fathers. It all comes from unfounded fears, turning to hatreds. My dad hated my love for hip hop, blues, American classical music they call “jazz.” But he did come to respect it. I just thank God for the love that overcomes such mindsets, hatreds, fears, and evil.
I found out through those tests that he was from great wealth. The land thefts occurred in history past; and his father, my grandfather, was in the fields at age 8, no more schooling for him. Then the names came, used to perpetuate the lies that he was a lowlife, “lower than even slaves.” Such are the dynamics of growing up poor in the South.
Watts is a prolific name in the Bull City. My family’s history is mixed with this town in many ways. The history of this area is filled, however, with much that’s been wrongly taught. Black Wall Street in Durham was known because of the amount of black wealth that was amassed here. It was destroyed because of the fears and hatreds of racism. We must combat this evil at its every point. We should not allow it to rear its ugly head in any enigmatic way.
That is why I am adamant that our president no longer uses terms like, “America First,” as they are steeped in racism and its insipid history. That is also why I am optimistic, especially with actions taken recently regarding the Confederate statue issue. I am not afraid to speak out about the evils and atrocities I was taught and still see. As Sam Cooke soulfully sang, “It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come!” We must break down the bridges of lies built over the years. We are enslaved by miseducation; and the ropes that enchain our minds are linked to faulty belief systems.
My social research metadata reveals that my new hometown is at a major crossroads, with all the innovation and entrepreneurial fire that is ablaze here. We have a chance to look back on history, learn from our mistakes, and rectify our wrongs. We can then move forward, toward a better tomorrow today, in a grander way. My wife and I anticipate adding to the positives of love and better community life for all. We are involved in a Community Watch to combat social injustices.
H. F. Watts Jr. lives in Durham.