For the 100 millionth time, it has a happened again. And we know yet again because we are now able to record these heinous injustices. It seems not even a pandemic can stop hatred from bubbling to the top, duly followed by the outrage, mines included. This affects people on all levels. It brings people to tears. It makes us question humanity. It makes us angry and it inflicts pain. Reopens wounds and takes us back. Back to hate.
Social media was flooded as is the unfortunate norm now, with cries of outrage, open displays of the truly painful anguish felt by many. But unless I have not been paying attention until now, the sentiment this time seems to be somewhat different. We had a white mayor extolling the “being black should not be a death sentence”, sentiment. Like we shouldn’t already know this. I watched videos of outraged white people calling for guidance on how to safely intervene when witnessing these crimes on a human being committed by law enforcement. I actually listened to another white women go off for about 20 minutes in her car on the need for white people to fix this problem. Essentially in the words of the late James Baldwin, she drove home the fact passionately, that this is not a “Negro problem”. I watched a young black boy, being asked by a reporter, what would make “them” stop the rioting? His response was the most painful and brutally honest expression of life that, easily could have been made in 1963, but unfortunately was being made today in 2020. For this to stop white people has to change is the loosely paraphrased version of what he said. The white people have to change rhetoric is what I have observed as the trending topic following these last events. The call for people to summon from their hearts, the ability to see black people, in particular black men in America as human beings. A hopeful and desperate cry for humanity to change.
But I’m here to argue, that there’s no change coming, on any large human scale. To use a biblical metaphor, this world’s serpent and apple was slavery. Slavery, I see as the original sin and with it came this perpetual dilemma. The moment that seed was planted and man decided that slavery was necessary, was the moment that ensured for generations to come there would be hatred. Needless to say man has been his own worst enemy. Inflicting all manner of atrocities on each other throughout the history of the world. But slavery was a special evil. Arguably one of the most, if not the most, heinous and devastating event to befall any group of people. For hundreds of years. Slavery started in America somewhere around 1619. The Emancipation Proclamation was official on January 1, 1863. Let that sink in a bit. There has been no atrocity meted out to any group of humans in the history of the world, of this magnitude. None.
And it didn’t end there. Hundreds more years of oppression and murder and dehumanization followed. Those hateful ideas and feelings and actions passed on to upcoming generations over and over again. I have heard white arguments that I never enslaved you. I wasn’t there during the Jim Crow years, etc. And though this may be true, and though many would rightfully want to separate themselves from the ugly history, this ugly history is what shaped America. This ugly history is why America is the way it is today. We would love to have the luxury to decide what in history would influence our thinking, and pick and choose the parts that make us look best, but we cannot. For as much as the black person and the black family has been devastated throughout history. The hearts and minds that meted out this devastation has also been destroyed.
The call for change in the hearts of white people is hopeful and in an ideal world does sound plausible, attainable. But I’m sorry life has not been about rainbows and beautiful skies. I am not so hopeful that the type of change needed to correct these ills can ever happen. Not in this generation or for many generations to come. The views, the perceptions, the ideas, the theories, fact or fiction, are long-standing and have been passed down and is undoubtedly deeply woven into the fabric of this nation. Without a second thought Amy Cooper was able to play the distressed white woman card. Not because she’s racist, as she so openly stated, but I argue because it’s what she knows. That reaction is fueled by a deep seated belief, no longer even a conscious one. A deeply woven belief, a generational poison that is simply a part of who she is.
There’s enormous complexity in this. The openly racist among us are easily and eventually identified. History has given us more than our fair examples of them. But then we have the many “good white people”, and I used quotations here only to differentiate them from the openly racists among us. Well meaning, race issues never or rarely in their lens of existence, either through choice or experience. But nonetheless are a part of the American fabric, are recipients of generational influence. That are angered at even the suggestion that they harbor any racist underpinnings, because they truly believe they do not. And I’m not here to say they do, but I am here to say that if we all allow brutal honesty to guide us here and recognize that yes I have thoughts and views about “those” people, that unconsciously affect the way we interact, the places I go, the friends I have, the choices I make, that I am a part of the problem, not necessarily of my own doing, but of my own existence, that may be a start.
My daughter was born pure and innocent into this world, but she hears me speak and I’m sure she will observe my anguish and take in my views on many matters in life. And yes she will eventually formulate her own ideas and ways of dealing with things, but my silent and pervasive influencing of her being will always be with her. It will be my legacy, just as you carry on yours.
So yes short of a complete annihilation of the human race, I firmly believe we are stuck with racism and injustice and hatred and all these ugly things that persevere through time that makes us terribly flawed humans. What of a solution? I truly do not know.