The Color of Character

Seat of Honor – Tamar Manasseh and Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK)


The Woman Behind the Mask

I want to pay tribute to a woman and an organization that are doing something to improve the lives of black Americans. She does not have a big stage or microphone to work from. In fact, she literally started with one city block, a chair, and the daring to stare down gangs. And she is making a positive difference. Most people who make a big difference, start small. Meet Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK). She decided not to allow gang shootings to take the lives of the children in her block. She has been successful. From there, her organization has grown. They provide safety, food, fun, and most of all an example of how to improve ones’ lot in life without waiting for the world to change around you. She does not spend her time looking for others to blame. She knows who the immediate enemies are to the quality of life on her block. She is not waiting for someone to come along and eliminate every possible cause of how she and her family ended up living in such a dangerous neighborhood. She pushed right past that to make a positive difference.

No Time for Navel Gazing

That does not mean that she isn’t aware of some of the larger problems in the black community, and in America. It’s just that she found something that she can do to make it better, and how to engage others in her cause to get results. She doesn’t have time to debate who is more racist, or how white supremacy is keeping her and her neighbors down. There are lives at stake. Debating who is at fault is a luxury for those safely ensconced in academia, politics, or some organizations that say a lot but accomplish little but sow divisiveness.

Add Equal Opportunity, and Watch What Grows

Millions of oppressed in every generation managed to carry on, and find a modicum of success in their lives, and for their children. They didn’t set out to try to change the hearts and minds of their oppressors. What they did was to change the laws that stood as barriers to their equality of opportunity. Then they got to work. Others didn’t even wait for the laws to change, instead they figured out how to work around them. They became leaders by example. They did not necessarily lead masses; perhaps it was only to their children that they were leaders.

They earned whatever part of the good life to be had in America that they could by their own efforts. In doing so, many of the haters who saw them as “the other,” learned that they were more alike than different. And that’s how people chipped away at what divides us, the way Tamar Manasseh and her followers are doing today. Those who think they can’t improve their situation until the world changes around them¬†will be waiting a long time.







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