America. Land of the free and home of the brave–or so they say. Our country was founded by idealists. Those who believed there was a better way of life. Those in search of freedom, who had a dream. A dream that everyone should be entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That would be if you’re of European descent, of course.
The Native Americans were S.O.L. as far as our founding fathers were concerned. We came. We enslaved some. We used some. We stole from some, and we killed some. Regardless of who arrived first to North America, we felt entitled to take what we wanted and harm anyone who got in our way. The American dream. Freedom to do whatever the hell we want, regardless of the consequences.
When slavery was introduced to our country, it was game-on for the South. Millions of Africans were trafficked to the United States and sold as property to landowners, who could do as they pleased with their newfound help. Families were ripped apart. Women were raped. Men were beaten and forced to work in inhumane conditions, as many slaves were treated worse than animals. The Constitution acknowledged slaves as being 3/5’ths of a person, as compared to their white counterparts. Let that sink in…
When the North had an epiphany that perhaps the South was oppressing slaves in the same way that they had felt oppression by Britain, they called for an abolishment of slavery. Even when Congress outlawed African slave trade, the practice continued to grow with numbers tripling over the next 50 years.
Rebellions by the slaves ensued, which caused those in support of slavery to refer to them as barbarians. They felt that slaves should be denied education, the right to assemble, and the ability to move as means to control them out of fear of future rebellions.
Then came the Civil War, followed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Even after the abolishment of slavery, prejudices and discrimination were still very present and real in America. Jim Crow laws in the South forced segregation and limited black Americans to working mostly low-wage jobs, again in efforts to oppress them as many still considered blacks as inferior to themselves.
This was followed by sit-ins and protests, by rallies and speeches, from some of the greatest civil rights activists in our history. Bloody Sunday was when a peaceful protest in Alabama turned violent by the refusal of state and local police to stand down, under orders of the governor, as protestors attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Protestors were beaten and teargassed, leaving many in the hospital. The protest was organized in response to a black civil rights leader being killed by a white police officer. Not long after, Nobel-Peace Prize Winner, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while innocently standing on the balcony of his hotel room. He had a dream too. A dream that looked a lot like our founding fathers but was inclusive to all races. And he was murdered for it.
My point in this American history refresher is that history is repeating itself once again. Police brutality. Discrimination by whites. Prejudices and racism that simply won’t go away without the enlightenment that we can achieve by taking the time to listen to our black brothers and sisters. By shutting up and knowing that we don’t have all the answers, and that we’ll never be able to fully know the plight of being a black American. Regardless, we should be willing to learn more, listen more, and talk less. To let them know that we have their back. To call out others who are racist. To recognize any of our own downfalls in being supportive of black Americans, and to vow to do better. To be better and to love better.
For those who feel the need to speak out–now is not the time to speak of black on black crime. Now is not the time to say “All lives matter.” Now is not the time to insinuate that the murders of black men and women were because they were breaking the law and “had it coming.” Now is not the time to bring up an unarmed white person who died at the hands of police. There is undoubtedly a disproportionate rate of blacks who are killed by police than whites, when you account for the percentage of black population overall versus white.
When you try to argue the above points, it comes across as trying to take attention away from the many social injustices that affect black Americans. You are deflecting and gaslighting into making their cause seem less worthy or placing blame on them for social injustices. In other words, you’re being an entitled, prejudiced jerk.
Yes–obviously most Americans, regardless of race, don’t condone violent protests, riots, or looting. No, it’s not right to attack or kill store owners and police officers. Yes, most police officers are good; but like all professions, some are bad. No, it’s not right to destroy property or loot. Yes, people that commit these crimes should be punished, just like the white police officer or lynch mob that murders an unarmed black American should be punished. But guys, the peaceful protests didn’t work! Time and time again, they have tried; but we are no better now than we were twenty years ago when it comes to race relations.
Taking the knee during the National Anthem was as hated by many white Americans as the looting and rioting going on now. Many whites also took offense to the Black Lives Matter movement. So I’m asking you this, what exactly do you suggest they do to try to prove their point? Nothing they do seems to set well with some people in their entitled, white privilege mindsets.
Here’s the real deal, and I’ll spell it out for you. You might be a racist if you have one token black friend. You are a racist if you tell racist jokes. You are a racist if you use the “N- word.” You might be a racist if black people make you feel uncomfortable or scared. You might be a racist if you think Martin Luther King Day doesn’t count as a real holiday. You might be a racist if you continue to harp that “All lives matter.” You are a racist if you see the loss of a white person as greater than the loss of a black person. You may be a racist if you see no point of peaceful protests. You are a racist if you judge biracial relationships and children. You are a racist if you treat black people differently from other races and ethnicities. You may be a racist if you disagree with Affirmative Action. You may be a racist if you deny that white privilege is very real. You are a racist if you have an issue with having a diverse neighborhood, school, church, or workplace. Does that help?
We all have room for growth. Women’s Health Magazine has an article entitled “10 Movies You Can Watch to Better Understand Racism and Black History in America.” Here’s the link to dig in. I plan to. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/g32733628/black-history-movies/
I challenge you to make like a sponge and soak up as much information as you can about the plight of black Americans. Take the time to have tough conversations with them. Ask questions. Listen. Don’t act like a know-it-all, because guess what? You don’t know it all. None of us do. Be sympathetic. Ask what you can do to help. Be genuine. Realize that their struggles may look different from yours; but at the core, we are all connected and bleed the same blood. Fear, hate, and misunderstanding drive racism. By taking the time to understand each other more, the fear begins to evaporate. Misunderstandings become a thing of the past, and we can all learn to live life to the fullest together. For the ones with true hate in their heart are few and far between. By taking these steps together, we can drown them out and suppress their hate by replacing it with love and understanding. Because in the end, we are not that different.
Thanks so much for stopping in. To keep up with my latest posts, be sure to drop your email before you go. I want my black brothers and sisters to know that this white girl supports you, loves you, and wants to learn more from you. I stand with you. Peace and love to all of you. Let’s be the change… xo, Christy