The Back Story

Seeing our similarities instead of our differences will make this country great

Everyone has a back-story.  Everyone.  And included in that back-story is pain…the type of pain that we have a tendency to hide from everyone else.  But it is within that pain something that will indelibly makes us human.  Some of us will not allow ourselves to view anyone who may not look, worship or love like us as being equal to who we are.

But what if we looked at ourselves through a different lens?  What if we looked at ourselves through the back-story that each one of us has; the story that lends itself to our humanness.  Each one of us has experienced pain, hurt, disappointment, loss and fear.  We as human beings have fear; fear of the unknown…the uncertainty of the outcome of any given circumstance.  Every mother, regardless of race or ethnicity, has feared for their children.  Will my child come home safe from school?  How can I protect my children in a world that seems to be loaded with twists and turns that at times seem to be designed to lead them astray at any given moment?

Our nation’s citizens, regardless of their political affiliation has experienced disappointment; perhaps in people that we assumed to be sensitive to our needs; friends that we thought would always have our back in the most difficult of times, only to realize in the end that they never did.  We have all experienced loss; whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of good health…or loss of anything that we may have held dear to us, regardless if the thing is something as simple as an ideology or belief.

I often wonder if we as a people have the capacity to look beyond ourselves to see or even imagine someone else’s back story.   Can we begin to imagine someone else’s pain amid a personal loss or tragedy?

We spend so much time reveling in our own problems that we often

forget that there are others who are just like us experiencing pain just like us.  Sometimes, what we have a tendency to do is strip away their humanness and instead focus on what makes them different and therefore less than.

We do not want to acknowledge that those we’ve deemed as “other” are really us in a disguise that we have devised in our own mind.  We will purposefully view people that are LGBTQ, Black, Jewish, Muslim through a narrow lens while silently taking away the very thing that should make us an equal.

Because we know that once you do that, it makes it easier for you to ignore the issues that are important to that demographic of people because somehow, in your mind’s eye, they have been deemed less than you.

There will be many who will simply refuse to change their perspective because it is within that perspective that they will find comfort.  Their perspective will grant them a certain self-righteousness that entitles them to their belief system.  They believe that they are better and more deserving if they can take the humanness away from another group of people because to acknowledge that demographics hurt, pain or disappointment would take away from their own hurt, pain or disappointment…even if that isn’t really the case.

To survive, we have to understand that every single one of us has a back story.  We have to at least acknowledge the reasons as to why we feel and take it from there.  We have to understand that even if another group doesn’t agree with our ideology, we have to at least acknowledge its validity even if it is in direct contradiction to our own set of values.

We don’t have to agree, but we must accept that it is okay to disagree which is admittedly very hard to do given our current political climate.

Perhaps if we can collectively look at ourselves and everyone else around us through a different lens, we can get on the road to a better way of living and loving.

We have spent so much time as a people fighting because we have been successfully divided.  We have had our differences highlighted and magnified to make us enemies instead of members of the same country that we love.

Maybe we can move to a better place by purposefully seeking the back-story in all of us because it is in this that we will be able to see our similarities as opposed to our differences.  And once we see our similarities will we then be placed on the road to the massive healing that this country needs.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Written by Jerome

J. L. Whitehead has been writing professionally since 1989, initially beginning his career as a contributing freelance columnist for “PGN, Incorporated” located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After writing for the publication for a year, he published his first chap book of poetry entitled “Universal Words” while enjoying various speaking engagements and poetry exhibitions.
His works includes being a major contributing writer to a book of poetry and prose for African American men entitled “A Warm December” in 1989.
In 2002, he became a contributing writer and editor for an online magazine entitled “Never2Funky”.
He has been a journalist for a national web site entitled “The Examiner” as well as contributing to CNN’s iReport. These online publications are web sites dedicated to reporting local and national area news and events. He conducts interviews with local area authors and writes unbiased reviews of their work. He also composes commentaries on topics that pertain to the social issues relevant of the day.
He has also founded his own publication company that goes by the name, Four Brothers Publications. He has released his first full length novel entitled Bruthas and has also written the manuscript for his first play based on the characters of his novel. In 2013, Bruthas, The Final Chapter was released as the second installment of this family crime drama. Both publications are currently available at and Amazon.
The Princeton Literary Review Silver Standard of Literary Excellence for “Bruthas” published August 2011 by Four Brothers Publications

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