By Scott Linscott
I can’t imagine. I have no idea. Though I try my hardest to listen and seek to understand, and though I read the right books and listen to the recommended speakers, my own experience colors my conclusions and my feelings.
Please be patient with me, friends of color. Gently confront me to let me know when my speech and actions cross painful lines. Teach me. Tell me. Be a safe space where I can ask any question. Help pull open my eyes to the things I do not see. I need your grace if I am ever to understand. Please don’t give up on me. I know you do not owe me this patience.
I am for you. When human beings devalue, subjugate and oppress other human beings, I feel deeply. My hope is that those feelings trigger action toward change. I will continue to push with you because I actually, honestly believe that all people are created equal by God, even though many misrepresent that same God and warp His words for their own advancement and position.
When I took these photos at National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, I was stirred. I sat at a counter set up to look like a diner from 1960 and tried to play the role of a peaceful civil rights protestor. The very idea that people were once kept from sitting at a lunch counter because of the color of their skin had me disgusted before I even took my place on on one of the stools to begin the simulation. I placed the headphones over my ears, put my hands on the counter, closed my eyes and tried to endure the increasingly horrific verbal abuse endured by the people who lived it. The entire time, I kept reminding myself, “this isn’t real…this is only a museum.” It was when something within said, “Scott, this was real … this is still real” that I broke. I took off the headphones, opened my tear-filled eyes and one of the attendants handed me a tissue and told me, “take all the time you need.”
Only a handful of historical displays, settings and simulations have raised such emotion in me. One was when I sat in the spot where archeologists and historians tell us Roman prisoners were beaten in Jerusalem before crucifixion. Another was at the 9/11 museum in New York City where my emotions shut down and disconnected at the halfway point. I was overwhelmed at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall and the amount of pain it communicated. And then, I added the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to my list in February 2020.
The Atlanta Center helped me better understand the history my brothers and sisters of color here in the United States and made me more aware of the global struggle for human rights that demands our attention and our action. If you visit Atlanta, go.
Today we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. We will talk about all that he accomplished through his call for change through non-violence. We will change our profile pics and cover photos and we will tweet pithy quotes.
But, more than that, I’m hoping for greater understanding and lasting change where all humans are valued and treated equal.
I will listen. I will write. I will vote. I will support. I will be part of that lasting change.