React to Racism
I originally shared this on May 30th. And unsurprisingly, you can substitute “last night” in the first paragraph for any point in time over the past four weeks and it is still relevant. This is because some people continue to struggle with the nature of the protests against racism, racial injustice, racial disparities and racial inequality. Some of this “struggle” is due to the awakening. And some of it is due to a desire to stay asleep.
To my Black brothers and sisters, I know we are in pain. I know we are angry. And we’re all processing the events of last night in our own ways. Whatever that is for you, it is fine because you have the privilege to process the experience of injustice and inequality however you damn well please. Make space for one another and know that we are all seeking the same thing even if we take different routes. I am praying for justice and safety for us all.
To our allies, especially white allies who I have seen speak up and out in support of the African American community in ways I had not seen previously, thank you, thank you, thank you. Whew! I can’t tell you how important it is, how protective it feels to not have to navigate this journey alone. I feel loved by you. I feel seen by you. Truly, you all will be critical difference makers on the road to equality and equity. And make sure you jump in here, too, if and when the haters respond. You have the power to change the conversation, it has always been you. We speak out to get you to speak out. Continue (or start) to voice your support and your commitment to ending racism and achieving equity for all of us, together.
To the good police officers of all backgrounds who every day put their lives on the line for all of us, thank you. You see the humanity in all of us. You embody goodness. You protect and serve, and I am grateful for you. I am encouraged by the fact that more of you are speaking out against police brutality than before. I know that some of you, especially police officers of color, are navigating a challenging time, having often experienced the same injustices yourselves that people are protesting against. And still, you serve to be part of the solution. Again, thank you.
And if you are white and you are angry about the events of last night, I have thoughts.
I hope you have reserved equal if not greater indignation for the injustices and inequities that led to last night. Please share that outrage on social media, too.
Those of us who have lived these experiences can debate the protest amongst ourselves, because the injustices we’ve experienced allow us to do so. It is one privilege we have which you do not. Hooray.
If you want to condemn the protests, I ask you to condemn racism, and the inequity and injustice that come with that. Then we can have coffee and talk about whether or not black people should be expressing their anger and solidarity in this fashion, or that fashion.
Think about the stuff white people have protested for just recently – while armed – like keeping confederate statues, or demanding that governors reopen states. Were you silent then? Did you approve of that? Did you understand it? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then at a minimum, you should ask why your response to these protests is different, rage-filled and vocal. The truth may be uncomfortable, but face it.
I’m not asking you to approve of these protests. I’m not asking you to speak up. I’m not even asking you to understand them. I don’t expect everyone to see everything the same, we do have different values and I know that. But if you think you can stand by in silence while we have suffered from the hearts and hands of racist, evil people who wielded their cell phones at us like guns, who delighted as we swayed from trees with our necks broken and our faces distorted into masks of death, who recoiled in disgust when we showed up in their schools and churches, who came into our church and shot at us under overturned tables and chairs, who drained swimming pools when we dipped our toes in them on hot summer days, who fought for laws to prevent us from voting, who denied us jobs or paid us less and then said we weren’t working hard enough…
If you can stand by in silence at all of that, and then all the sudden jump up off your couch and call us animals, thugs, hoodlums and niggers, then you are the one who is not American. You are the one who forgets the uniquely American ideals of fighting for freedom from tyranny, of demanding that the government protect and enforce your rights to life – LIFE – liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Protest is woven into the fabric of our being as a nation. It’s as American as… America.
Our rights are just as unalienable as yours. And if last night makes you angry, I hope and pray that anger eventually leads you towards justice.
I am an African AMERICAN. See me. Hear me. Walk with me, not against me, and maybe, just maybe we might actually bring about that more perfect union we’ve all heard about. Maybe, just maybe, we can all finally be free, together.