“Your neighbors have grown sick of your f------ riots and Bullshit Matters signs. Remove them or we TORCH your home and cars real quiet with lighter fluid while you sleep! We have had ENOUGH!”
Notes left on porches in MN
June 1, 2020
“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible – even if you are choking on it – until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere…But we have to stay vigilant, because it is always still in the air…Police put a gun to my head at 12. Tired of reading about racism? I’m tired of living it.”
May 30, 2020
These are just two voices I read today. They are expressions of a tense country in a culture war. I get absorbed reading a lot and then crying a lot these days over this intense battle for the soul of America. Some who want to maintain the status quo, do not want to learn about or acknowledge historical racism in this country. Many of these people in the past few weeks have minimized the pain over George Floyd’s death. One way has been to quote Martin Luther King Jr. on non-violence, as a way to decry the current protests across America. However, his non-violent protestors were met by the violence of firehoses and billyclubs.
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?...it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
MLK Jr. 1960’s
Here are some voices from a panel moderated by Oprah this week:
“We find our nation on a precipice. Is this the moment that will change the nation? When systemic racism ends? …first we must acknowledge the hurt and pain. The pain must be called out…for black people, we recognize that knee on the neck…”
“Your life constantly under threat is a constant violence…it started with runaway slaves…”
“The parents of my grandparents were freed slaves. I take strength from them. I think, how could they get past the humiliation and anger? We have to believe there is something better for our children. How do we undo this systemic racism? I am supposed to have answers today. I am struggling with the solutions as a mother and a mayor.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms
“This is about power, to protect power. Who owns that power is changing. (We need to) expand the conversation…Rage and anguish is real. Let them feel it. 110,000 have died from Covid 19. Those who have lost jobs are disproportionately black. George Floyd is the catalyst: knee on neck – like a hunter on the neck of a deer, waiting for the fight to run out…Instruments are in place to keep us in place.”
"Like (we took) a collective gasping breath…Racism, poverty, and religious nationalism tries to keep the dominance system. The dominant must close it (protests) down to keep their power. Marches and protests got more peaceful as time went on, in cities around the world."
What has been the value of voices and daily protests? 76% including 71% of white people believe in systemic racism today. Ten positive actions have emerged in the past ten days of protests. Most have to do with police reform, like banning chokeholds, insisting cops intervene to stop a cop using inappropriate power, and moving police money to social justice and community services.
Like Kareem Abdul Jabbar reminds us, racism is unseen dust in the air. I was blind to the dust I could not see. Now the sun is out. The winds of change are swirling that dust into a tornado, where it can now be seen better by me and an entire country in dire need of reform. Some who resist have blinders and will not look. Some of us are just coming to see our attachment to upholding the centuries old white dominance. Either way, this tornado is moving through this country, growing in strength, and hoping to transform the look of the land.