#amwriting I am afraid by Tracy Diane Miller

I have remained publicly silent for the most part when it comes to political discussions, particularly on social media because I have noticed that passionate advocacy of one’s political positions has escalated into an endless and unproductive environment of name calling and insults.

I am afraid of the direction in which our country is heading. I am afraid of the eroding of our long held constitutional protections. I am afraid that this country is moving backwards in race relations. I am afraid that segregation and suspicion based solely on one’s racial and ethnic makeup will become the norm. I am afraid for the dismantling of rights currently afforded women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, children and veterans. I am middle-aged, African-American, and female. I am afraid.

My late mother was born in 1924 in rural Virginia. Segregation and discrimination weren’t intellectual topics for discussion; they were a part of her daily life. I know that segregation really bothered her and she made every effort to teach her children to respect people for who they are. My mother refused to accept societal labels of inferiority. I was a child of the 1970s. I grew up in inner city Philadelphia. I understood and lived through poverty. But thankfully, I understood and lived through the value of education. I am proud of what I have been fortunate to achieve because I have never forgotten from where I started.

I have been called names of hate all my life. I pity the ignorant and their inability to educate themselves to the things they don’t know. I am grateful that I have been able to learn from people in my life who hail from different ethnic, racial or religious groups. I am very grateful for my mother. Because of her, I have never had the desire to segregate myself from people who don’t look like me. Yes, I am angry by all forms of discrimination. But I choose to be me. Yes, I am not a social person. Yes, I choose to keep to myself more than most people. If 2016 taught me anything, one must protect one’s heart. You may not always succeed. You may be hurt beyond belief, but that is life.

I am afraid. But I believe in God. I just hope that in the coming months when I am tested, when this country is tested, I remember the lessons my mother taught me that helped me survive hardship.