When I was took a position in Connecticut in 1990, Johnson, knowing how whites have a difficult time accepting a person of color in charge, told me: “Dwight, you’re gonna have to eat some crow some time, and even take some stuff, but you don’t have to take it lying down.”
Hurston offers similar advice: “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Lafayette specifically counsels victims to know the law. When he spoke at Eastern Connecticut State University in 2013, he said: “If you don’t use your God-given rights, you will lose them.”
All three were and are right. Have a bone in your back. Be honest and firm, and if necessary, take people to court who commit their vicious and insidious acts and who behave disrespectfully toward you and expect you to “get over it.” Your beautiful prose shows that African Americans will always show class in facing and dealing with small-minded people.
I wonder if Ms. Hill considered the agency that both former President Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama exhibited rather than assuming that grace is weak. Of course grace, which means acting in love even when others don’t deserve the act, is formidable among the great exhibitors of social change. We wouldn’t expect less of these two. It is the strongest response and most revealing when standing next to those who have, in fact, been ungracious.
Rev. Jan Todd
Thank you for your candid thoughts. I can identify with the article. As a father of a mid-20s, half-black man, no matter how hard I tried to raise him right and make sure he understood that heroes come in all colors and sizes by educating him through books and conversations, still at times I was frustrated that the reality of our society systematically enforces otherwise.
Santa Clara, Calif.
As a woman of color, I am inclined to disagree that there was a problem with the Obamas’ “going high.” My perception of the Obamas is they are “high,” simply that. My take: The Obamas are not in the game. It is just not their style. And what do they have to prove by being obnoxious or belligerent?
Dr. Francine Adams
Lake Worth, Fla.
I disagree entirely with this. I’m partly African American myself, and I teach African American history. The behavior of the Obamas at the funeral was both appropriate and exemplary, in my view. As always, they conducted themselves with dignity and poise, despite Trump’s boorish conduct, and thereby illustrated precisely the sort of graceful bearing for which the late President Bush has been so highly praised.
Brian Alnutt, Ph.D.
New Tripoli, Pa.
I totally disagree with the author. The Obamas’ “going high” is for me one of the few things that can ameliorate the pain of watching the current president and his gang. Because “going high” is more than a chosen behavior; it’s an expression of character that elevates them, and by contrast, reveals the difference between them and the current president. I can’t imagine a worse response than to imitate the president in his emotionally stunted words or behavior. Their “going high” makes me proud and humbled at the same time—proud for their example and humbled at my own failures under less provocation.