Sunday, July 10, 2016

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

"In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate."
~Toni Morrison

I've been avoiding this issue and then a young man I know shamed me for being silent. Because if white people are silent, if we don't speak up with our friends and neighbors, we are guilty by default.

I don't know the details of any of the killings and having a son who is starting the police academy next week I am a true supporter of our men and women in blue. I'm fortunate to have many friends who are exceptional at their job of serving and protecting us.

But there is a problem. And the only way to begin to solve a problem is to admit it. If a restaurant finds out that a very small percent of meat they are serving is causing e coli they can't just shrug and hope nobody dies. They have to find and dispose of anything that could harm the public.

That's not easy with people, I understand that. I have heard of certain police forces around the country adding extensive training on conflict de-escalation. Seems like a valid start.

How did our country get here? We now broadly label large groups of people with vague and damaging statements. In every fraction of a society, there will be the good and the bad. The bad thankfully tend to be such a minuscule part yet we lump them as a whole. All Muslims are terrorists, all Mexicans are criminals, all immigrants are evil, all ________ are ______. The KKK are all white but for some reason, this never translates to all white people are racist. Somehow we get excluded from the lumping. Lucky us.

I am thankful for being born a white girl. My life, I'm sure, has been easier in so many ways. I'm also ashamed. I'm ashamed that our race has behaved in such a way over history that this is still a thing. Racism never had to be a thing. We made it a thing. We did that. And I know we hear all of the time the many ways our society has tried to fix it but we are the ones who broke it.

We obviously aren't doing enough. It's bandaids for broken bones. I actually read an article recently about how today's political dialogue has given an uprise to the KKK. They have new members and new factions and claim to be nonviolent. Shame on us.

What's black and white and red all over? Our country. And the only way to fix it is to tear off the bandaids and do the dirty work of fixing the bones. This is not a black problem, this is OUR problem. Stop pointing fingers at your fellow human beings because they are different from you. Don't be quick to judge someone because they dress, speak, pray, eat, or simply live different from you.

Instead, talk to them. Get to know them. Learn who they truly are. You might gain some compassion, understanding, and appreciation. You might even gain a new friend.

"Achievement has no color."
~Abraham Lincoln



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