2021: The Year of the Do-Better, not the Do-Over

I‘ll be riding all 365 days of 2021 like jockey on horse trying to win the Kentucky Derby—and you should, too.

Pity that time moves in only one direction. There are many moments in my life I wish I could relive, but with the knowledge I have now. Exhibit A: my first term in college and the five-hour Beginning French class which met every day at 8:00 a.m. Because I had several years of French under my belt before college, the elective was supposed to be an easy A. But when registering for the class I didn’t take into consideration that I lived on the vampire sleep schedule—turning in around 3:00 a.m., and up at 9:00 a.m. The class wound up being a five-hour F. What can I say? Living the wild life and partying kinda got in the way.

2020 stole, killed, and destroyed so much for so many, and left utter devastation in its wake. For many of us, Covid’s exacerbating circumstances far exceeded our control, let alone our grasp. If you’re like me, you tried to make sense of it all, remain focused and productive; but even still . . . there was the feeling that I should have done more. Hopefully, others might say I was better than I hoped and not as bad as I thought. Reality might disagree.

But let’s not be delusional here. The last twelve months have been a banner year for bigotry, racism, and hatred. A lot of bad stuff has gone down that had nothing to do with Covid and everything to do with intentionally malevolent acts perpetrated against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and too many white people taking refuge in their fortress of indifference. It doesn’t affect me so why should I care?

I don’t want a “do-over” of 2020. I don’t know about you, but I lived a decade in the last 366 days and that was enough to last me a lifetime. I hate should-ing on people but . . . if you don’t want social injustice, racism, bigotry, sexism, and all that nonsense, there’s no way anyone in their right mind can return to the pre-2020 normal. That’s the thinking that got us into this dumpster fire in the first place.

Don’t show me anything in 2021 that’s a do-over of something from 2020. The last thing I want nastying up my pristine new year is some refuse from a still blazing 365-day-long dumpster fire. There will be no do-overs, no re-dos, or mulligans of anything that did not move the needle closer to equality.

My plan is to ride all 365 days of 2021 like a jockey beating a winning horse in the Kentucky Derby. (ASPCA and animal rights activists, that previous sentence was purely for the visual impact that’s it. I love animals, so stand down.) Call it being an ally, an accomplice, or whatever you want, but the time to do better at standing up for equality is now.

If you encourage people, do it more fervently. If you shape young minds in a classroom, do it with intention and purpose. However you choose to serve for the greater good of humanity and achieve equality, it’s time.

White folks, you can be all Whew, we made it. Where’s my yoga mat, avocado toast, and craft beer? Come on now. America can’t afford for you to backslide into apathy. We’re not done. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are still dead. Innocent Black men are still being shot and killed with impunity. We. Are. Just. Getting. Started.

You’d better believe that as a Black man, I’d love for all our nation’s social ills to evaporate on January 1, 2021, and less than three weeks later we get a new president. Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that. It never worked like that. We still have income inequality. People of Color, Black people in particular, are being laid off now in droves. We have education inequality. Record unemployment. People are being evicted.

Sugar lumps, I’m going to be brutally honest with you. What the world needs from here on out are better white people. Like I wrote a while back somewhere on Medium, if Black people could’ve fixed America’s racism problem we would have done so a couple of centuries ago, but we can’t. We. Need. You. To. Step. Up.

George, Breonna, and countless others need you to step up. You need you to step up.

Love one another.

Author, artist, accidental activist, founder Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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