STEP UP, SPEAK UP AND MAKE THAT CHANGE Are you the type of person who stands by and says nothing? Do you let others confront the imminent issues, but you remain silent? Long before I was born, racial issues have had devastating effects on our nation. I suppose that is something that I was somewhat sheltered from when I was young girl. Today, with all the technology and access to the world, there is no sheltering nor should we be ignoring the numerous daily incidents. The last couple of months, racial issues have been a constant topic on our news without a moment of peace. Ignorance is no excuse and action is required. This is a subject that I, too, was ignorant about until a few years ago, going about my day in disbelief that some very real prejudicial actions and words exist still in our communities — communities that everyone should be able to call home. As a human being and as a white woman who adopted a 100 percent African American child, I personally can offer testimony to the differentiation society seems to place on some because of the color of one’s skin. I have made it a priority to learn what I can so I can properly prepare and educate my child for some of the morally-offensive realities that continue amongst us. For more than 100 years now, the NAACP has advocated for the civil rights of those in communities and all they ask for is simply equal opportunity. It is sickening that the organization even had to come about and I cannot bear the thought of those heinous conditions that made it a necessity. I am embarrassed that as part of our history, we once upon a time enslaved and lynched people. We committed as a nation in the early 1900s to end slavery, the equal protection of the law, and equal opportunity for political, educational, and social interests of minority groups. Fulfill the commitment. It took our country 50-60 long years to end segregation and include everyone in the right to vote, not a very swift action plan if you ask me. I encourage you to learn something about the NAACP and participate in equal rights and treatment for all. As millions of African Americans continue to be afflicted by discrimination, do not simply stand by and watch while leaving the issues for others to manage. If each of us became proactive and put more effort into taking responsibility for our own actions, this would not be the race-based nation we see before us today. Now hear me loud and clear…Take away the labels…I am not a “white” woman. My skin is actually a peachy-tanned tone. My child is not black. She has beautiful glistening brown skin. We have both been given the individual traits hand-picked by our Creator, but our hearts are one. I instill in her soul, faith, hope and love. Don’t let her down. Be proactive in your community. Get involved. After all, we are all made in the image of God and ALL lives matter. If you would like to become involved here in the Upper Ohio Valley, check out the Wheeling Branch NAACP - Freedom Fund Banquet at 6 p.m., Friday, August 12, 2016 at Wheeling Jesuit University’s Swint Hall.