As an African American, I can’t tell you the number of times I heard someone say to me, “Go back to Africa…”
It happened when I was a child, when passing motorists would yell from their car windows. It happened when I was a young adult, at my first job as a maid at Burdines, and later as a maid in private homes. It even happened when I became a journalist.
Today, there’s a new wave of racism aimed at not only me, but every American who looks like me. And it’s coming from the White House, from the mouth of our president.
Like many of you, I was appalled when I read President Trump’s tweet to the four congresswomen of color. As our leader, and the leader of the free world, I expect more from him.
President Trump has accused the congresswomen of “hating” America. How does he know that? Is it because he disagreed with something they said about America — which is their country?
On Tuesday, the House voted to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks, in a 240-187 vote, with four Republicans joining the unanimous Democrats and one independent in the rebuke. The four Republicans voting for the measure were: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon, said he knows racism “when I see it.” Lewis knows because it was racism that almost caused him to be beaten to death while marching for African American voting rights in Selma in 1965, on a day that would become known as “Bloody Sunday.”
As Americans, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have a right to speak out about what makes America sick. They are in a good place to help heal America. It’s their job.
Some people don’t see anything wrong with President Trump’s remarks. To me, they’re like parents who uphold their children despite their wrongdoing.
Years ago, I wrote a column saying I don’t like our national anthem. To me, “America the Beautiful” was a more fitting song, as it describes the beauty of our country — “the amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain.”
“The Star Spangled Banner,’’ meanwhile, talks of “bombs bursting” and war.
You should have seen the hate mail I received from that column.
Yet whenever I hear our anthem, I stand with my right hand over my heart, and sing the words with gusto. I do so because I love America.
There have also been times when I wrote about the ills of this country — racism, hatred, bullying, looking the other way when our leaders do something wrong.
Am I wrong for wanting America to be healed? In order to be healed, we must first recognize there is a problem. And dear friends, we have problems today in America.
This is why all freedom-loving Americans must stay vigilant.
If we don’t, we can wake up tomorrow and the right to vote for African Americans can be taken away. We are not too far removed from the days of Jim Crow, the Freedom Marches, and the Birmingham Four — the four little black girls who died in a church bombing as they attended Sunday school on Sept. 15, 1963.
I can still see black men hanging from trees in the deep South, lynched because somebody thought it was a good sport to torture and hang black men. And who can forget the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who lived the peaceful life he preached?
These were sad times in America.
Sadder still, is the fact that at 81 I have witnessed many acts of hate. This tells me that we must continue to be watchful, and that I must tell the story of the plight of blacks and other groups in this country for as long as I can.
It reminds me that, like my Jewish brethren, who must never forget the Holocaust, we must never forget what it was like in the Jim Crow days.
And whenever we see the ugly head of racism, we must call it out, even if it is our president who is fueling it.
So, Mr. President, will you tell me to “go back to Africa”?
I won’t go because I am a sixth-generation American, whose great-great-grandmother was a slave.
I won’t go because of all the black men (and women, too) who fought to keep this country free.
I won’t go because I want to dignify all my ancestors who thought this country was worth dying for.
I won’t go back to Africa simply because America is my home.
And I love it here.
Congratulations are in order
A special tribute to Cecily Robinson Duffie, Esq., who was presented with the 2019 Eunice W. Thompson Merit Award at the 64th National Convention of Charmettes, held at the PGA National Resort And Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. The award is the organization’s highest honor.
Duffie is the daughter of the late Thelmarie Mitchell Robinson and Andrew Robinson. She graduated with honors from North Miami Senior High School and received a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Florida, where she was a Presidential Scholar and a recipient of the Karl and Madira Bickel Assistantship. She earned her law degree from Nova University in 1988.
Duffie was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1989. She worked for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Legal Services of Greater Miami and the Florida Attorney General’s Office before starting her own practice. Her specialty is real estate litigation and probate and guardianship representation.
The mother of five, including a set of twins, Duffie championed and successfully changed the Miami-Dade County School Board policy as it related to the admission of twins and multiples to magnet schools. She did this while her twins were in kindergarten.
Married 33 years to Minister Troy Duffie, she serves as a Deaconess and Sunday school teacher at the historic St. John Institutional Baptist Church in Overtown. She attributes the success of her marriage and her loving family life to her devotion to God, having accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior when she was only 5.
Aside from her family and her career, Duffie is devoted to the work of the church. She is the founder of the St. John Youth Retreat and has served as its chair for 20 years.
In addition to the Charmettes, Duffie also serves as program director for the Miami Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, and is a member of the board of The Alternative Program (a pre-trial diversion program for first-time criminal offenders) and Iota Phi Lambda Sorority.
In addition to the twins — the Rev. Cecil Andrew and Cecily Anastasia — Duffie and her husband are the parents of Minister Troy Adam, Caitlyn and Trinity Duffie.
Huntington’s Disease race
The 28th Annual Huntington’s Disease Triathlon/Duathlon/Aquabike will be from 6:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 28, at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, 12451 SW 184th St.
Huntington’s Disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. There is no cure.
The event will consist of different levels of triathlons. For information, go to https://www.trisignup.com/Race/Events/FL/Miami/28thAnnualHuntingtonsDiseaseTriathlonDuathlonAquabike2019 or call Neekia Davis at 212-242-1968, ext. 204, or email firstname.lastname@example.org