This is a real question for people out there in the aftermath of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases, as someone who's trying to be a good ally. I've been moving through the web combatting with individuals who seem to think that racism and inequality are gone. What do you think accounts for this most? Are people simply ignorant? Are they foolish? Do they not have access or choose to ignore very hard statistics? Do they not know any black people -- and if they do, do they ignore the narratives of others?
Or are they just racist, hateful people? I'd like to not believe this last statement.
My take is this:
A lot of those I interact with seem to believe there's some conspiracy black folks are coming up with; like inequality is a myth used for personal advantage. Can you honestly say that? Do you believe people like being treated as lesser than -- or even perceive they are treated worse? Do many white people understand that when minorities speak against this prejudice with anger that this is not racism? Do they know what racism is?!
One observation may be subjective -- often it's not completely -- but when millions speak, it's a greater truth, one no one can reasonably deny. No one wants to be treated poorly. We are all Americans. And more importantly, we are all human beings who want the best for ourselves and those close to us. What advantage do people see in claiming disadvantage?
Even if you believe Eric Garner or Michael Brown were criminals, ask yourself if you've done anything wrong in your life. Or if others you know have committed a crime. Think about how you or they were treated because of this. Question if they or anyone else deserves to die, because an individual's death is not a retractable act. War criminals are evil people. Someone who sells a loosie is not.
That person cannot be replaced. Your judgment however, can be changed.
Before you wage war against what YOU perceive as wrong, and with what YOU believe to be truth, consider that you are not the only person in the world, whose experience trumps all others. Think about how YOU were given many chances, in the same way I was, to succeed. Consider that (whatever you think of him) our president could easily have been a target of injustice, and if he were, would we have our president today?
ALL people need to be given opportunities to succeed. We are barely past segregation. Fifty-odd years of "equality" cannot compensate for hundreds of years of injustice. The system is not good enough to claim to be equitable yet. Even the best and brightest, who succeed despite prejudice, face ill will (anyone remember Henry Louis Gates?! Probably not...). If we do not give ALL people a fair chance, EVERYONE'S integrity is at stake. Our greatest assets are our people. Think of whom we may be missing out on. And whom we are already missing.
I only hope I can be a good ally. Tell me what you think.