Like all people we think a lot about death.
And of course we all think about Life.
Most of days we also think plenty about Sex.
And some days we only think of Love.
Yet most always we think and feel the Spirit…
So in that Spirit space of Compassion and Kindness let’s look at what we can do together to stem the bloodshed and the begotten violence that has poisoned our Society.
So let us think about Peace.
Let us think about reconciliation.
Let us think about kindness.
Let us think about Compassion.
And lastly, let think about Love…
Let’s think about Love and Death, and the Spirit and all the other things that come to mind every day – but today we shall think of all of them n the context of humility and grace in order to invite a clear understanding into our lives about the pivotal issue of race relations that bedevils our young country.
Almost one year ago, a young man Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo for no particular reason…
And since then, many more people who were innocent have died in the hands of the Police.
As a fitting response, the collective anger and devastation of the black community has become a powerful national movement that brings massive numbers of people on the streets to demonstrate and peacefully assemble to discuss this tragic turn of events in our Lives…
Out of all that simmering collective anger the movement “Black Lives Matter” has been born and is now working to transform everything from social media to social consciousness — towards a new understanding of our Race and it’s gradients of value measured in color and social respect.
Because ultimately that’s all what this is all about.
And today at the CHurchill Society — we had a debate about whether it’s our job, and by extension the job of all social and political leaders — to coach white folks, and black folks alike without worrying about our deep feelings od racial insecurities. The whole point is that we white people should be the ones thinking more about black people — their feelings, their experience and their reality, which can be dramatically different than our own. But at the same time, we should put our feelings a little bit on hold so that we can defeat the structural racism that exists in Society because that ugliness we experience today and most days of wanton violence — won’t change until white people change.
There are already white people who want to change, and want to help spur change in their communities. Many people are reticent to speak out, for fear of misspeaking; others want to do something, but don’t know what to do. Instead of continuing to unconsciously reinforce structural racism in America, there are many white people who want to consciously help deconstruct and dismantle it. But how?
It is not up to Black Lives Matter, nor any movement led by and for communities of color, to make space for or articulate a vision for white people. The expectation that black leaders and movements should automatically do so is a subtle extension of the sort of white-centric entitlement that gives rise to the need for such movements in the first place. Then again, we haven’t exactly blazed a path to enlightenment and liberation so far on our own.
It’s too passive and doesn’t provide a sense of risk equal to the level of risks black folks experience every single day. Black folks are never safe, so it’s important for white co-conspirators or comrades to think about the level of comfort — safety — that is assumed to them by sitting on the sidelines and not actively engaging in the movement for black lives because it seems “too risky.” I want comrades who will show up when I’m most vulnerable and be in active solidarity with my struggle as a person in a black body and take some risks, because I’m putting my life out on the line every single day.
Be complicit in dismantling racist structures by taking risks, putting your bodies on the line in the streets, sharing access to resources (and releasing agency over them), living in some discomfort with difficult conversations in collaboration, knowing when to listen and organizing other white folks.
In St. Louis, we eradicated the word “allies.” We call our white folks our comrades. Because they’ve stood in front of and next to us when we asked them to. A living demonstration of white privilege is to see a line of white people handled by the police with kid gloves, who they carefully push past to brutalize us black folks.
Racism is an illness that afflicts each and every one of us. It steals our humanity, our capacity for empathy, the righteous indignation that is our birthright. I don’t believe in allies; I believe in the decolonizing power of solidarity. White people ought to challenge themselves to engage in more spaces of risk and difference.
Black people don’t need to be convinced that anti-black racism, structural inequity and skin privilege are facts; white people do… White people have to do the hard work of figuring out the best ways to educate themselves and each other about racism. And I don’t know what that looks like, because that is not my work, or the work of other black people, to figure out. In fact, the demand placed on black people to essentially teach white folk how not to be racist or complicit in structural racism is itself an exercise of willful ignorance and laziness.
You can’t be progressive and anti-black. The two are synonymous. But just because you have progressive politics doesn’t mean you’re not racist as hell, that you don’t think black people are less than; it doesn’t mean you have a racial analysis. Being progressive doesn’t give you a pass. You have to do the work within yourself if you’re going to be in this space.
Let’s expand what being progressive in America really means…
The conditions that are taking the lives of black and Latino communities with heart-shattering speed cannot be solved with economic solutions alone. A progressive movement that isn’t organizing to dismantle structural racism isn’t a progressive movement. It’s a movement of white middle-class self-interest, where white people on both sides of the aisle are fighting to retain white privilege in different ways.
Let’s stop saying all lives matter, because it doesn’t mean anything… And let’s truly understand why you shouldn’t say that. Whatever people need to do to understand why that’s not OK, they need to do that. What we’re saying right now is that all lives will actually matter when black lives matter — and black lives don’t matter right now. So we need to say black lives matter to change that. We need to change that individually, we need to change that within our communities and we need to change that systemically.
Today we must all move and get beyond just saying that Black Lives Matter… I want white people to do the work of pushing Democratic darlings to take more seriously the impact of structural racism…. Beyond saying #BlackLivesMatter, I want to hear more about what each of them will do to ensure a world where #BlackLivesMatter — and that means weighing in for an end to deportations and citizenship for all, fighting to end mass incarceration, ensuring that domestic workers have full rights in and outside of the workplace and on and on.
Let’s all right now stop acting like black people are stupid or that they can’t take care of themselves…
We are all politically savvy, and we can easily recognize that women have a higher voter turnout than men, and black women have an even higher turnout record that white women or for that matter — anyone else in this society…
Clearly today — no candidate can win without black women, yet a bunch of black women stood up and expressed their feelings on an issue that is literally killing our people and white people are acting like they were a bunch of uppity Negroes who didn’t know their place in society or in their homes.
These are young people who are learning as they go. Every movement has growing pains. I’ve seen too many people who are writing off their efforts because they don’t think the effort is being organized in the right way. That is not helpful. White allies need to give these young people space to grow, space to fail, space to learn. And they need to amplify their voices.
White liberals and progressives have a responsibility to organize their communities for social justice using an explicitly anti-black racism frame. There is no need to hide behind black or people of color organizations. Commit yourself to organizing poor and working class white folks. We are capable of organizing our communities. Our children need everyday white folks to work harder to ensure that black women don’t have to worry about dying after failing to signal properly, walking while transgender or trying to protect their children.
Only white society and white people can save themselves from white supremacism and racism by opening up their heart and seeing things as they are…
Not as someone else tells them how things are.
Get your own Compass from your own Heart.
And get started on the journey towards healing the rift between races.
Get started on the road towards bridging the chasm that separates the people based on the color of their skin.
Get started on the road to healing and make sure that your vehicle on this great journey is your Compassion.
Get started and wherever you are in your journey with issues like these, and whether you’re someone who tries to live a life of racial consciousness on a daily basis, or you’re someone who has historically stayed out of conversations like this one because they’re just too intense – there’s room for you.
Everybody has room to grow.
God knows that and will help steer you in the right direction…
All it takes is remembering that race isn’t something that Black America gets to forget about – they live with it, they live in it, and it burdens them each and every hour of every day — all 24 hours of the day.
And all it takes is softening your heart to understand what it must be like to live in a country where someone who looks like you is shot down in the street on a far-too-regular basis, and then you have to listen to people debate whether or not that person deserved to die.
If nothing else, what you can do is sit for a second. Consider what it would be like to not be you. How the world could be a very different, scarier, and less safe place. How you have the opportunity to stand up for something here, and say definitively that you are ready to do your part, to learn, to listen. How this is a moment where humility and deep compassion need to drive our response of holy outrage. How this movement has already started, and we as White people need to just get on board.
Any little change you make in the way you talk about and/or perceive situations like this – that will make a difference. Changing your little corner of the world will make a difference. Not allowing people to make racially insensitive jokes just “because this is the South;” not accepting prejudice around you; not jumping to conclusions about who did and deserved what – all of that makes a difference. And a difference is what we need.
Because a human being breathed his last yesterday after being shot to death. In a parking lot. By a cop.
Because we have to find a way to make America everyone’s America.
Because now is the moment to lift your voice, regardless if you are White, Black, or Brown — let’s get together once again.
Let’s do this for ourselves, but most importantly let’s do this for America.
God Bless America.