The past month and a half has brought America much to think about. And things that we must think about. No matter where we are or who we are. We all play a part in the greater collective.
The death of George Floyd and other people of color lately, and through time, in America must make us pause. And for white people to notice our part in this difficult present and past so we can make a better future.
This country has been built on hardship. Its vast wealth has been built in large part on the backs of enslaved people and on the land taken from native people. If we are white, we need to realize that. And we also need to realize that we are born with privilege that our skin color affords us. That is true now, and it has been true in the past. That does not mean that we need to replicate bad patterns going forward.
We are at a critical moment as a nation to realize our difficult past and use it to build a better future. These may seem to be cliches, but they are not.
I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion about the protestors who are out on the streets now. I’ve been hearing everything from full-fledged support to outright denigration to stipes in between. I think it’s critical to realize that the picture is so much more complex than decrying a whole movement and the people who are making it happen. In fact, nothing in our country has ever changed without people adding their voices and pushing from below. That’s what we’re seeing now. There’s a fringe that is using demonstration for their own (destructive) benefit. But the vast majority are those who are arguably the biggest sorts of patriots out there: those who want to make their country, their state, their neighborhoods better for everyone.
As white people we need to notice how we can be a part of this change and how we can be allies to our friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellow community members of color. And we need to listen. For some that listening is hard. We need to hear, we need to make space. And we need to work with people of color to make change going forward.
It’s this push, this noise and its subsequent silences, the pressure and discomfort that we need to make to create what is absolutely possible: a better, more just country for all of us. And that’s what true love of country and its people – all its people – means, and what it looks like.
Barack Obama says it succinctly:
“It’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.” – ABC Town Hall