Seizing the Moment While Black Lives Do Matter – Op-ed from “Just Saying…”by Mildred Robertson, blog Just Saying... August 3, 2020
My 30-something-year-old son has been active in the protests in San Diego, California triggered by the George Floyd murder. He has marched, he has been tear-gassed and clubbed by police, and he is frustrated. While his passion for immediate social change is still red-hot, he wants to know the end game. He wants to know what will happen when the marching stops.
His first response when he took to the streets is that it appeared that no one was in charge. It was a knee-jerk response from a group of young people overcome by the brutality they have witnessed over the course of their young lives. And they are out- raged.
You see, while America’s duplicity is familiar to me…a near Septuagenarian, many youths, both black and white, have been sheltered from the race hatred that bubbles just beneath the surface of American society. America has never addressed the festering sore of slavery and its incumbent racial animus.
It is, perhaps, the fault of our generation who witnessed the transformative 60’s and experienced the benefit of a society where we could walk on the sidewalk and not have to step to the side to let a white person pass…or when we got to move outside the redlines…or when we were able to drink from whatever water fountain we chose. It all felt like progress. It WAS progress.
Our school systems white-washed the history of slavery and Jim Crow, and many of us, traumatized by the brutality of racism ignored it, striving instead to achieve the American promise of peace and prosperity. At least those of us who could. But far too many of our people were trapped in the dysfunctional strata of our society where they faced substandard schools, inferior housing, inadequate healthcare, food deserts, and over-policing.
While young people like my son were not unaware of racism…of course, I had “the talk” with him about policing…It had not
touched many of them on a daily basis as it had those who were less fortunate. But this current administration has ripped the scab from our barely healing racial strife to expose the ugly hatred nurtured by white Americans who blamed their failures on our successes. Blacks who have not been able to dig themselves from the poverty into which they were grandfathered under
the oppressive systems of slavery and Jim Crow were viewed as lazy, criminal, and not entitled to the American Dream. Those who became successful and moved up in society were viewed as interlopers who stole the Dream from deserving white citizens.
But polite society barely acknowledges this reality. You see, we work in integrated workplaces. Our friendships are many times interracial. We go out to clubs and share a drink after work, or have an occasional social dinner meeting. We even sometimes worship together. Our lives have become intersectional.
But it is not where our lives meet that causes problems. It is when we walk out of the hospital and take off our lab coats, when we leave the bank and change from our Brooks Brother’s suits to our jogging pants and hoodies, when we come home from the fire station or the police station and put on our casual clothes. When we look like all the other black folk in the world…That is when the problems start–when we become the threat.
When we are walking to the corner store like Trayvon Martin, or lying in bed like Breona Taylor, playing in the park like Tamir Rice or driving our car like Sandra Bland; the threat is real. But it is we ourselves who are threatened.
Though touted as the land of fairness and equality; America, since its inception, has always had a strange taste for violence. From the slaughter of native Americans, to the brutalization of slaves, to the ruthless marauding of Black communities through- out reconstruction, to the viciousness of the attack on civil rights activists, and to the inhumane policing in Black communities
that have resulted in the death of thousands of folks like George Floyd. Blood lust has been a part of the White American nature. Yet, White folks clutch their pearls when a young protestor, angry over these 400 years of injustice, raises his or her fist
and possibly throws a brick. It is this disconsonant that has caused many White Americans, not only to see but acknowledge their duplicity.
And now, with eyes open, many White Americans are persuadable. Many can acknowledge the shame of slavery, the burden of servitude, discrimination and racism on the Black community and the disparities that are rooted in them.
Unfortunately for George Floyd, it was his televised execution that caused many White Americans to see. But his death has created a moment. A moment when Black Lives do actually matter. The moment will be fleeting, so we must seize it now to cre- ate the change we need in order for America to be great for the FIRST time.
This article comes from Mildred Robertson’s “Just Saying” blogspot that you can reach by clicking through to: Just Saying…