“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Where do you stand?
If you find yourself in relative comfort and the continuous injustice on African Americans does not bother you—you are part of the problem. If you refuse to acknowledge that white privilege exists—you are part of the problem. If you witness racist acts in your community and stay silent—you are part of the problem. If you are afraid to have productive conversations about racial issues—you are part of the problem.
It’s impossible to end something as vile as racism if we are afraid to confront it head on.
Yes, sometimes it will be a challenge and downright uncomfortable to start conversations. Yes, it will be disheartening to face some truths about yourself or others. These steps are necessary in order for us to break the barriers that keep us from fully understanding and addressing the racial issues that are plaguing this country.
It’s time to be courageous and leave your place of personalized comforts and intentionally place yourself in this conflict alongside those fighting for justice and equality.
We are now in a period of time, where we are observing what happens when a race of people who have exhausted all available resources for their voices and cries to be heard. After 400 plus years of oppression and over 60 plus years of a broken promise, black people are tired of waiting and enduring for the sake of society. The psychological impact of oppression, systemic racism, and economic inequalities have taken its toll on the black community.
The people you are seeing outside in the streets protesting and rioting are saying, “This is it. We can’t take it anymore. We are being pushed to the edge, and we have to fight our hardest now for the right to exist, to be treated like human beings, to breathe, to be equals, to step outside without the fear of death looming in the air. So, we pretty much want all the privileges that are afforded to all citizens of this country here but only a select group receives.”
Will this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? I don’t know.
One thing that I do know for sure is that racism is not a “black people problem.” Standing on the sidelines observing the plight of a race being slaughtered and offering the occasional “sorry” is simply not enough anymore.
All lives matter. True, all lives do matter, but ask yourself this one question: Which group of citizens are constantly seen in the media murdered by racist cops, wannabe vigilantes, and white supremacists strictly because of their skin color? If you truly believe that all lives matter, then black lives should matter too.
All lives will matter when black lives matter. Period.
About four years ago, the great Jane Elliott once posed a question to an auditorium filled with people, but most specifically to the Caucasian people in that room. She asked them, “If you as a white person would be happy to receive the same treatment that our black citizens do in this society, please stand?” Nobody stood up after the question was asked, so she proceeded to ask again. “If you, white folks, want to be treated the way blacks are in this society, stand?” Still nobody stood up, and so, she proceeded to tell them why. “That says very plainly that you know what’s happening. You know you don’t want it for you. I want to know why you are so willing to accept it or to allow it to happen for others.”
How can you help? I am happy that you asked.
First and foremost, talk to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and so forth. Start having healthy conversations about race in the home. Foster a home that is filled with love and tolerance for all. Our younger generations are the key to eradicating racism. I think by now, we all have heard the saying that no one is born hating—it is a learned behavior. If one can learn to hate, one can learn to love.
Secondly, ask questions if you don’t understand. What better way to start a conversation? Start conversations with your friends of all backgrounds.
Furthermore, if you want to have a better understanding—read books (we have extensive lists of recommended reading coming later this week), research, talk to people in the black community. . . get involved in their community.
Empower your mind and heart.