What if we just talk to people, find out their names, and tell them they matter to us? #whatsyourname #youmattertome
Darnell Phillip is a friend of mine, an African-American man. On Tuesday, the day after the murder of George Floyd, he posted these thoughts. This is raw, fresh, and real. At the time, all I could post was the words, “thank you.” His words have stayed with me throughout the week, even as tensions have mounted. I have tried to stay focused in my mind on the single incident, not wanting the unrest and the riots to dilute my sense of shock and horror of that senseless act. His words have further opened my eyes; I truly do not know what it’s like to be a black man in America. I asked if I could share his words, and he agreed. I want all of us to begin to see through the eyes of others.
If you comment, please keep your comments related to his thoughts. If you bring up the riots and how they may or may not discredit or minimize the racial injustice, I will delete your comment. This is not the place to discuss that.
“Today has just been a gut wrenching day. I’m reminded of every time that I have been pulled over by police or questioned by a position in authority. I am reminded that no one had to teach me coping mechanisms of how not to appear to be a threat. I am reminded of how I have changed my body language, altered my tone, dressed differently, or walked to the other side of the street as to give you space and made you comfortable. And why do I do these things? Because this nation has taught black men that the consequences of not doing them can be deadly.
“I think of the ways that we have explained it, the lengths we have gone to demand a voice and a place within this society. When we held back our hand and refused to adopt methods of violence, we were hosed and assassinated. When we decided that we must stand up for ourselves by any means necessary, We were vilified and assassinated. We were ridiculed for kneeling during the star spangled banner when no one else would seek change.
“I remember the ways that my hands gripped the wheel each time I drove through long sections of Southern states anxious that I may have a tail light out and a reason to be pursued. And I could comfort myself with the notion that the South is the only region that I would need to avoid. The South has been the epicenter of black suffering and trauma the effects of which are still prevalent today. But that would only be a delusion. These stories of murder at the hands of those sworn to protect us hail from NYC, Baltimore, Minnesota, as well as New Orleans, Ferguson, Florida and too many other places to name. The fact is that this is an American problem. Not a regional thing. Or a blue or red thing. Or a religious thing.
“The most disheartening thing that I experience is people who claim ‘well, we were not there and it’s easy to make a judgment about a video but you don’t know what he did to provoke that kind of attention.’ Or the way that people will scour a black victims social media to find anything that would suggest that he deserved to die. It sickens me when I think that white supremacists have been arrested after killing in cold blood American citizens while black men have been murdered in broad daylight without resisting arrest. I have no easy answers for those who want to help. There are no convenient ways that we as Americans can begin to set right what is so broken within our own society. It’d be so easy for our conscience to donate to a fund because in our own detached way we could convince ourselves that we were in an active role for seeking change. POC don’t need saviors (in any non-religious sense), but we certainly could use allies. People brace enough to speak up and admit that enough is enough. We won’t have any solutions until we can admit what we as a society have done wrong. Can you see America putting down its pride long enough to make that kind of restitution? Right now to be completely honest it doesn’t seem likely. However, I have been encouraged by the people who have asked I wanted someone to vent to or asked how we can help.”
I’M TIRED OF BEING CALLED A RACIST
by Mark Knox
The question of whether opposition to President Obama’s policies and plans constitutes a kind of subtle (or not so subtle) racism has been discussed much in the media of late. Even former President Jimmy Carter has entered the fray. And frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it. The implication (and sometimes outright accusation) that because I strongly object to what President Obama is doing that I therefore must be motivated completely or in part because of racist feelings is really starting to tick me off. In other words, I’M TIRED OF BEING CALLED A RACIST!
I’ve recently read two columns that seriously offer the idea that at least some of the rhetoric is racially motivated. But both columnists are guilty of arguing from the part (i.e., there is racism in the U.S.) to the whole (i.e., therefore, all or most opposition to Obama is racist) when they tar political dissidents with the racist label.
It’s easy to play the race card. You don’t have to prove it. You just have to make a few generalizations and broad accusations, and you immediately put people on the defensive: “…but I’m not a racist.” The fact is, charging people with racism when there is no racism just desensitizes people when there really are incidents of prejudice. When everything is racist, then what do you do when there really is discrimination? For you’ve cried “wolf” too many times, and now nobody is listening.
[For the record, Mark is “mad as hell and is not going to take it anymore.” But he’s not a racist.]