Afraid To Hope? - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1779773

Afraid To Hope?

“Honey, what do you want for Christmas?”

“Oh, Mommy, I wanna big red firetruck.”

“I wanna dolly that talks.”

“I wanna bike.”

“Mommy, I don’t want anything. I just wanna get out of this shelter.”

Hopes and wishes. Wishes and hopes. Rehearsing late at night and all day long. Kids making it out of a sing-along sing, “I hope I get that red truck. I hope I get that dolly, dolly, dolly. I hope I get that pink bike with the tassels and horn that goes beep, beep, beep. I hope, I hope, I hope.”

“I hope one day I have my own bed.”

We can all relate to hope. Some adults hope to become millionaires. Some hope for a home of their own, their own business or two weeks’ vacation, or, with the pandemic seemingly subsiding, to finally kiss and hug their grandchild.

Sometimes in life we get what we hope for, and sometimes we don’t. Repetitive disappointment can lead to a time when you’re just afraid to hope. To protect yourself. To stop building up expectations that crumble at your feet. Hope that makes the heart sad.

I watched a documentary called “Good Trouble.” It was about the life of Congressman John Lewis, an amazing icon who literally put his life on the line fighting for equality and justice for Black people and people of color.

After watching this film and reflecting and reliving the years of “the struggle,” I unfortunately see the similarities of the continuous fight for equality and justice even now in 2021.

The film’s journey included 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, where white supremacy killed and completely destroyed one of the most prosperous Black communities in the United States. Thirty-five city blocks went up in flames, 300 people died and 800 were injured. They built their own self-contained community, with banks, schools, etc. They dared to hope. But hope deferred.

But the fight continued: In 1960, a nonviolent organization called SNCC protested against “whites only” lunch counters. The film showed the students brutally attacked, punched and kicked. In 1961, the Freedom Riders bus was destroyed, and some participants were killed by white supremacists.

In 1964, the Freedom Summer voting campaign. In 1963, the March on Washington. In 1965, Bloody Sunday in Montgomery, Alabama, during a nonviolent protest. This is where John Lewis was bashed in the head by police and almost lost his life. Rodney King in 1991, to George Floyd, and Daunte Wright (April 2021).

Should we still be afraid to hope?

The words of a song by Sam Cooke come to me:

It’s been a long

A long time coming

But I know a change gonna come

Oh, yes it will.

Peace and blessings.

Brenda Simmons

Co-founder and Executive Director

Southampton African American Museum

Southampton Village