I’m not entirely sure where to begin, so let me start with stating what should be obvious:
Black Lives Matter
That we can’t seem to agree on this in America is 2020 makes me some kind of mixture of sad, angry, screaming, crying, depressed. But how I feel and what I think isn’t important. In fact as a white person, especially a white man, my “feelings” are and should be beside the point. It’s the experience of black people that matters and they are experiencing racism daily. I don’t know what it’s like to have to think twice before going out for a jog. Or getting into my car. Or taking a stroll in a park. I get to take that for granted because of the color of my skin and the privilege it brings.
From my vantage point there was a moment in time about a decade ago when it felt like racism was for the most part going away (the talk of a “post-racial” society). It never was and my perspective was from the lily white perch of my privileged existence. Had I even bothered to ask my friends of color I would have known this to be the case. I know many other white friends who felt this way as well. We were not only wrong, it allowed us to lull ourselves into a sense of complacency.
Donald Trump is a racist. But he is a symptom of our problem, not the cause of it. He is incompetent. He takes every opportunity to divide us as a country and he openly and clearly encourages racists among us (can we stop saying “dog whistle” – there’s nothing subtle about his words or his actions – he’s a bull horn to racists). He must be voted out in November. But getting rid of Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of racism and more fundamental changes need to be made to our policing system, law enforcement more broadly (the prosecutors, jurys and others who have proven to be powerless to act in the face of police officers time and time again turning to murder as an outlet for their anger or incompetence), our criminal justice system and the systemic incarceration of black men. Our society has become more and more unequal and less and less compassionate and caring. We’ve lost ourselves as a nation.
I have some ideas on how to be a part of the solution. Sitting on the sidelines is not an option (and I believe doing so makes you a part of the problem – the cops in Minneapolis who stood by while their colleague murdered an innocent black man last week were not bystanders, they were accessories to his murder). But I think that’s for another post. This one isn’t about telling people what to do or how to feel.
It’s to say simply that Black Lives Matter.
To the many who are suffering and hurting, I’m sorry. I won’t pretend to know how you’re feeling. But I do know that we can and must make meaningful changes. Enough.