This stuff keeps coming up. A black man gets shot by the police, and the officers are acquitted time and time again. A college student of color has the police called on her for falling asleep while studying in a dorm common area. Muslims right to travel is restricted by executive order. The certainty of immigrant student’s futures hang in the balance at every turn.
It is not going to stop. Disenfranchisement, racism, discrimination, inequality are not going to stop until we heal America’s boo-boo’s.
I always read the comments on social media posts. Some people say I shouldn’t, but that’s where the unfiltered thoughts of bold social trolls live–and I want to know what people really think. One comment asked, “when are we going to stop talking about all of this ‘color stuff’ and just move on.”
The response was simple: “When we address it.”
PS – The preceding conversation took place between two white people.
We will keep recycling the struggles of our history until we make it better. Until we allow new skin to form over our historic emotional and social wounds.
So, how do we do this? Laws passed long ago that ended slavery, Japanese internment and Jim Crow laws. Affirmative action policies gave people of color and women access to institutions once closed to them. Civil rights policies have protected many who have taken the risk to advance.
Obviously, it hasn’t been enough.
First, we have to talk about it. We must have an empathetic conversation with a listening ear. An ear that doesn’t demand action or a solution. People of color need to be heard in a way that doesn’t judge, marginalize or make their journey small. Just listen.
Second, our allies need to speak up and keep fighting. Keep pointing our micro-aggressions. Keep educating those in your circle about how to deconstruct discrimination. Keep speaking up and standing up for right. After that, pound out every bit of wrong in our country.
Third, our leaders must have a mindset that institutional discrimination is what prevents healing. Broad policies from Washington have only gotten us so far. Each leader must individually push their team to be inclusive, fight for equality, and break down systems, rules and ways of doing things that keep people of color out.
Inequality exists all over the world and in a multitude of forms.
Americans don’t have to stand for it.