I started this blog shortly after the 2016 elections. At that time, it appeared to me that a terrible thing was happening in this country. It appeared to me that Americans who broadly speaking had opposing views on race, economics and politics were losing the ability to communicate with each other. I hoped that my insights, coming from the perspective of one with seven decades of life experience who has lived in both black and white worlds, would perhaps provide some clarity and perspective to people on both sides of the divide without offending either. However, my good intentions were quickly overwhelmed by the reactionary and shocking events that dominated the country’s consciousness almost from day one of the Trump presidency. It quickly became clear that much of his actions were designed to widen the divide between Americans instead of narrowing it. It became impossible to discuss anything that was happening intelligently without one side or the other not just disagreeing with, but resenting the commentary.
What started out as a populist movement by white Americans, frustrated by the lack of improvement in their quality life in spite of their working longer hours for less benefits and less pay, devolved into a neo-fascist juggernaut that attacked the constitution and every democratic institution designed to safeguard constitutional protection and human rights, all in the name of making America great again for white Americans, only. It was clear to anyone in this country who is not white, Christian and male that this objective was to be carried out with brute force, with the boots of the police and eventually the military on the necks of any people of color or progressive white people who tried to oppose it in any way. The filmed police murder of George Floyd has provided America and the entire human race the irrefutable evidence of this fascist objective.
The basic premise of all the posts I’ve made since the beginning is that America’s only problem is its failure to realistically deal with race and this country’s original sin of slavery. I’ve been saying that all of America’s other problems, economic and otherwise, will be solved once we realistically and seriously address this issue. So on the off chance that recent events have left most of white America with the will to address this problem seriously, and not quickly lose interest as it I’ve seen in the wake of past police atrocities against black people, I would like to offer three suggestions as to what we should be doing going forward to solve this problem of race in America.
- Be sure to gather all of the low hanging fruit – By that I mean do what the situation calls for in the immediate future. For example, the right first step was to arrest the murderer who killed Mr. Floyd. The arrest needs to be followed up with his conviction and sentencing commensurate with what a black policeman would get had he done the same thing to an unarmed white man. Chances are there will be some, if not the majority of, white people on the jury. It will be white people who convict him. If they do, it will send a strong signal to the rest of the would be police terrorists. They will know that they will be prosecuted if they don’t exercise appropriate restraint when interacting with black people. If the rest of them want to quit in protest, replace them. There’s a long-standing policy in DC that requires anyone working for the DC government to live in DC. A similar policy that required police to live in the neighborhoods they police would have a profoundly positive impact on effective policing in those neighborhoods.
- Become active in preventing the policies that we all know are going to deny black Americans their constitutional rights in the immediate future – Chief among those things are the means for voter suppression that is already in place in Republican dominated states. Again, this is a task only white people can satisfy. You must gather a team of supporters and look at the plans for the up coming elections and demand that there be sufficient polling stations in communities of color to allow for easy polling access for all of those people. This is something you must do now. You must go to your state capitals in force, the same thousands of you who marched in the recent protests. Once you accomplished that, you must flood those polling places with your own volunteers to insure the fidelity of the balloting.
- Own your racism – At the present time, in this country, we have a very narrow definition of racism. We define it as a white person deliberately wanting to do harm to a person of color just because of his/her race. By that definition, there’s no room to even discuss the subject. Any suggestion that a white person is racist is an insult. The late senator from North Carolina, Jessie Helms, put that narrowly defined definition to powerful use. He told his followers they were no longer white supremist or segregationist. They were instructed to disavow those traditions as tragic mistakes and call themselves conservative Republicans. So effective was he in providing cover and legitimizing his segregationist brethren that to call them what they actually were was tantamount to calling a black person the N word, which we are not. To truly understand your complicity in racism against black people, you must first accept that American culture has been indoctrinating you to be racist since you were born. For example, I was listening to a talk show on public radio where the subject was racial bias by black journalists. One of the callers on the program stated that she expected facts and figures only from reporters, without any editorial comment. One of the black journalist panelist pointed out that the facts and figures to which the caller was referring, to be based on parameters established by white male authorities, who have promulgated social norms that were evolved from an historically racist tradition, designed to marginalize and separate black people from mainstream society. In that context, police were carrying out normal police policy when someone was accidently and tragically killed. Are those the facts?
If we truly want social change and justice we’re going to have to start looking at things differently. If you stop seeing black people in the inner city as black and see them as just Americans like your own sons and daughters, and think about what would be required to clean up those neighborhoods and properly educate all the children in those neighborhoods if the people were white, the solutions would be obvious. I know from what I personally witnessed between 1965 and 1975 that inner city poverty can be ended in ten years, if we are committed as a country to do so. We must also stop doing things that we know are wrong for our health and the environment. The reason we are seemingly powerless to stop the fossil fuel industry from destroying our health and the environment is because of the moral bankruptcy we are in as a result of the effort it takes to maintain a society that requires it to brutalize and mistreat as much as twenty five percent of its population in order to maintain the status quo. The last gas driving automobile should roll off the assembly line no later than 2025.
Finally, if you really want to get a visceral understanding of the frustration and despair of black people of this nation and a working understanding of how we got to this point, I recommend you invest seven minutes of your time to watch the commentary of a young black writer named Kimberly Jones as she was being interview by a reporter during the protests (I believe you can find it on U Tube or Google). There are no words I can say to you that could even begin to enlighten you the way that young lady did in seven minutes. Come on America. We must get this right this time – because black people are never going back to the status quo.