We are at a historic moment in time. The events that have led to the reckoning that is part of the slogan “Black lives matter” has been a long time coming. For centuries our fellow citizens of color have faced unbelievable battles to attain the basic rights of our founding that tell us in simple clear words that “all men are created equal.” This is not merely a matter of history, this is a matter of struggle and injustice that continues to this present day. The facts and figures stand in judgment of our society and call us to join them in change.
This is the moment in history when we can finally have a good reckoning, when we can finally bring about real change. The argument that is heard over and over, that this is a problem from a long time ago, I had no slaves, I am not responsible, is mute. The problem, which you can clearly read in the data in the link above, is the system today, and we can fix it. We will not wait for hearts to change, we will change the system now and demand that racists take their turn being silent.
Happily I am seeing a large number of my fellow white citizens who are beginning to listen, learn, and ally themselves with this historic moment. They are joining their fellow citizens of color and calling for change. This gives me hope that things might change this time.
But there are holdouts, people who will stay on the wrong side of history if we do not challenge them. Here are a few ways I am seeing our fellow white citizens deflecting and trying to ignore their responsibility to act and to act now.
First, they try to find a safe black voice. They Ignore the thousands of voices, the data, the books, the cries of pain, the television evidence of an unjust system and go comfortably to sleep with these voices of comfort in their head. This allows them to avoid any sense of responsibility to act, and instead retreat to “my black friend” or the lone black voice that says “hey it’s not so bad, you white folk are just fine.” You can put on your Ben Carson and Candace Owens video and feel happy that it is all solved. Safe black voices right now, in this moment, are false prophets. Listen instead to the chorus crying from the streets for justice, not those that are soothing the wealthy and powerful as they continue in their practice of injustice.
Then they find an alternative history, one that says “hey other people were bad too.” Thus we get the false story about Irish slaves. The Irish did have it rough. But the Atlantic slave trade and the centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic abuse are far worse. Plus, the argument about Irish slaves is not just false, it misses the point. This is about the present, and in the present the Irish are not in trouble. If you are of Irish descent you should be shouting in the streets for justice for your fellow black citizens. Your history knows injustice, to ignore it now when it effects others is criminal! Funny, how much people want to rely on economists playing at writing history. Ivory tower men who want to apply their theory to the facts and make us look away from our own sin, the Arab slave trade for instance. This is a moment for us, now, in the US. Do not let yourself be fooled into thinking that because bad things happen elsewhere that YOU are off the hook. You cannot endorse the status quo here in America, you must join the struggle in this moment and be an anti-racist. Listen, learn, be an ally and support this change with your heart, your hands, your feet, your vote.
Finally they accuse the black lives matter people of “doing it wrong.” Point out all the flaws, the divisiveness, the Marxists they imagine behind every bush and under every rock… exactly as their racist forefathers did when they accused Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy of being trouble makers. Don’t! Stop! This is just another ploy! Instead of finding fault join the cause and support the work to make it better. If you blindly, and in a tone deaf manner, keep pointing out what is wrong instead of working to help fix this broken system you are simply supporting a racist system. Don’t pretend otherwise. There is no middle, the center will not hold in this time. There are sides, and neutrality is picking the side of the status quo, the side of injustice.
There is a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Today is the day to turn the money changers tables over. Today is a time to speak, a time to fight, now is the time. We need prophets to shout it in the streets. White citizens leave your excuses behind, please don’t screw this up again! This is a chance to finally do the right thing, so let’s do it. Let’s finally put an end to this evil history. Stand in the streets with your black brothers and sisters and let’s make it right this time!