Glenda Overstreet: The importance of education and love

From the disasters caused by Mother Nature to those caused by human hatred, it is becoming increasingly clear that the world needs lots of love and kindness. Our love, thoughts, prayers, time and support go out to the hurricane and shooting victims in Las Vegas and Lawrence.

Yet, even in the midst of such tragedies, the hate that continues to be displayed against those who quietly choose to kneel in protest against social injustice and police brutality, ultimately rings loud and clear. Although the United States has come a long way, it has a long way to go to truly be a nation reflective of sensitivity in understanding those who have different views or experiences.

Case in point: A recent Facebook post by Crystal Tucker shared her opinion as to why it is important to take action against social injustice and police brutality. Tucker indicated she simply wanted to help others understand the viewpoint that the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance don’t reflect the total history of those in this country. A myopic reader responded, “If you don’t like it here, you need to leave.”

Tucker showed a bag she had begun to pack and then she said she began to think, “I ain’t going nowhere. Me and my people helped build this country. And lady, you don’t really want me to leave. Because If I left, you would have a whole lot of problems. Do you know what this place would be like, if people like me back in the day had the opportunity to leave this country?”

She went on to say, “If I left, I would have to pack up the country’s agriculture because it was my people who cleared, plowed, planted and harvested crops in the fields. Traffic would be a mess because the traffic light invented by Garrett Morgan would have to go, too. In addition to accidents, there would be an increase in heart attacks because it was a black physician who performed the first open heart surgery – Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.

“You would be left barefoot because it was a black man, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, who invented the revolutionary lasting machine that tacked and sewed the soles and upper shoes together. And if a blood transfusion is needed, you may be in trouble because Dr. Charles Drew is the reason why we now use a blood plasma bank where you can get a transfusion, as he separated plasma from blood. And where would you be without the various developments of products using peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans by George Washington Carver”? These are but just a few.

In essence, Tucker provided some deeply needed education to an otherwise undereducated person about the positive and significant contributions made then and now by the very people who have been told repeatedly to leave the country if they don’t like negative actions taken.

Tucker chose to go high and educate rather than low and threaten with ultimatums.

I, too, in the past, was given this ultimatum of leaving this country by a police officer who didn’t understand why I chose to identify myself as an African American, rather than simply American. In this wonderful world, we have choices. My choice, just like Tucker’s, is to go high rather than low; to educate, rather than live in ignorance; to love rather than hate. Love is what was shown by Koby Robertson in Las Vegas for a person he had just met at the concert before she was killed by a stray bullet. Much love to you, Koby Robertson, for being who you are and going beyond for the family of Michelle Vo. May she and those whose lives were taken be remembered for their grace to others.

Glenda Overstreet is an active volunteer and community organizer in Topeka.

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