For a long time I have chosen to avoid politics online because I honestly am sickened by the quick “one liner” twenty second video clip mentality that has come to dominate our social conversations. Everyone finds some clip or clever quote usually taken out of context and posts it to support their opinion. Then everyone who agrees jumps on board with “likes” and additional one line comments. It’s truly disgusting, in my opinion, that we would even attempt to address something so deeply rooted in the fabric of our culture like race and police brutality in this fashion. Essentially you end up standing in a hall of mirrors and everyone around you looks, acts and thinks exactly like you. I would like to share one small portion from a speech Martin Luther King gave on March 14, 1968 at Grosse Pointe High School. The speech is called “The Other America”. If you would like to read a challenging piece of historical literature then go read the entire speech here.
“Now let me finally say something in the realm of the spirit and then I’m going to take my seat. Let me say finally, that in the midst of the hollering and in the midst of the discourtesy tonight, we got to come to see that however much we dislike it, the destinies of white and black America are tied together. Now the races don’t understand this apparently. But our destinies are tied together. And somehow, we must all learn to live together as brothers in this country or we’re all going to perish together as fools. Our destinies are tied together. Whether we like it or not culturally and otherwise, every white person is a little bit negro and every negro is a little bit white. Our language, our music, our material prosperity and even our food are an amalgam of black and white, so there can be no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white routes and there can ultimately be no separate white path to power and fulfillment short of social disaster without recognizing the necessity of sharing that power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity. We must come to see. . .yes we do need each other, the black man needs the white man to save him from his fear and the white man needs the black man to free him from his guilt.” MLK
Folks, the facts of our history are the facts. In the distant past, whites forcefully enslaved blacks and treated them like animals for over 100 years! And this atrocity was supported by the founding documents of our nation and required later amendments to change the the law! After slavery ended did our government stop attacking blacks? No, new laws were put in place to essentially implement a new type of slavery, Jim Crowe. I turn 40 this Saturday. I am young in comparison to the age of our nation, yet my generation is literally the first generation to be born into an America free of laws that treat blacks as second class citizens stealing their right to vote, marry whites, eat in white restaurants, etc. etc. I married a black woman on May 14, 1999 and even though the federal laws trumped local state laws, we were still “technically” illegally married in the state of Alabama until 2001, and that law was only removed from the Alabama books by a 52% majority! That means 48% of those who voted in Alabama still believed anti-miscegenation laws were just! There is a serious problem in that number.
So, while many whites, including myself, have an extremely difficult time being lumped in with other whites who are ignorant, racist imbeciles, we must accept that there are still whites in places of power who are racist. We must accept the fact that many blacks are still profiled and mistreated. The flip side to this is to my black family (because we are all family, we are humans before we are black, white, red, yellow, purple, blue, etc.), please please please, I beg of you not to generalize. Yes, whites will never ever ever understand what you deal with every day. It’s not possible. But please also consider that there are many many many whites who detest racism, and while we may not understand what it’s like to be black, because we are part of you, in that we are American, we do understand how it feels to be born into a society with such a nasty, disgusting past. Add on top of that the fact that it was quite possibly our very own ancestors who committed these atrocities and you end up with a group of people who feel genuine remorse, for the past and the present. You also have a group of people who long for a society free from the divisive tentacles of slavery and Jim Crowe yet often times feel completely emasculated when ignorant devils who share our skin tone commit atrocities. Often times it’s easier to hide than speak up. Is that right? No, but it’s truth. Other times, because we end up lumped into the racist bucket we tend to divert the focus to things not related to the actual racist event. Why? Because isn’t that typical human nature to divert attention away from something that is uncomfortable and painful. Is this right? Nope, but it’s often times the honest truth. However, the fact is, there are also racists still alive and kicking, every where across this country. So it can be difficult not to generalize and lump all whites together, or all blacks together. The simple fact, we are all human and we all view the world through a different lens. All blacks don’t think/feel the same nor do all whites think/feel the same. So, let’s try to stop the generalizations and stereotypes, on both sides of the color line.
My point in all of this? Is simply to challenge everyone to continue reaching across lines and connecting our lives and families in love. Work together in your local communities to implement programs that provide transparent over site into the actions of local law enforcement. Sit down with friends of different races and force yourself to discuss these difficult topics. Expect to be pissed off and challenged, it’s healthy for you, but be open to everyone’s opinions and feelings because everyone’s opinions and feelings are valid, simply because they are a valuable human. Do my suggestions sound crazy? Yep, but if we take an honest look at the paradoxical history of this great nation I believe we must admit that it is…crazy! Honestly, it is truly amazing that our country has been through such massive social injustice, blood shed and change yet we are still a functioning (although quite dysfunctional) nation of humans working to make this a better place.
“…however much we dislike it, the destinies of white and black America are tied together. Now the races don’t understand this apparently. But our destinies are tied together. And somehow, we must all learn to live together as brothers in this country or we’re all going to perish together as fools. Our destinies are tied together.” MLK