BLACK LIVES (DO) MATTER / My Story – Part Six – Conclusion
Whites sometimes seem exasperated by the Black Lives Matter movement. As they see it, the Civil War has been over since 1865, the Jim Crow era (which lasted 100 years) has been over in a strict legal sense since the mid-1960s, (although it is returning through voter suppression), and affirmative action programs of many kinds have been around for more than 50 years. I sense that many whites are of the opinion that enough is enough, that if Blacks are not where they want to be, it’s their own fault because everyone in the U.S. has an equal chance and ultimately gets what they deserve, good or bad. Above all, I sense that most Southern whites believe they are not to blame – they didn’t own slaves; they didn’t fight the Civil War; they didn’t segregate schools; they didn’t fight Civil Rights legislation; they didn’t stop anyone from voting or from getting a job; and, they darn sure don’t owe anyone an apology, much less reparations. Those who feel this way are intentionally missing the point. They either refuse to see the problem or, if they do, they are making a conscious decision to not be a part of the solution. They feel justified in washing their hands of the problem because they didn’t personally cause it. Sort of like saying I don’t fix things I didn’t break and I don’t mop milk I didn’t spill. Just a little too easy, short-sighted and selfish don’t you think unless, of course, you don’t mind or even enjoy living in racial strife?
A recent essay by Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, reminds us of our Christian duties:
“My faith, family and Catholic education have given me the belief in the innate dignity and worth of every single human being. Human life is sacred, and all humans have equal value. Of course, this means it is wrong to intentionally take a human life under any circumstances, but it is also wrong to disregard human life through racism, unjust social and economic structures, providing inadequate access to health care, wantonly harming the environment, abusing or neglecting anyone – a child, a mother, a father, a grandparent, an immigrant.”
She is exactly correct. Our Christian duty is totally clear and unequivocal.
If we actually care about our fellow man, if we truly love one another as we are commanded, we will accept the truth of our Black fellow citizens and get on with the job of ending racism in every aspect of American life. Above all, we must examine our own hearts, take personal inventory, and accept responsibility for ridding ourselves of racism. The hardest battle is always the battle within ourselves.
As for my self-evaluation, I have to confess that there was overt racism in the judicial system and in law enforcement and I was a part of it. I could say I was young and dumb, which is true, but it’s no excuse. I could say I would have lost my job, a job I needed, if I didn’t do as I was told, but that, also, is just an excuse. I could say that my environment as a child made me into what I was, but that makes it seem like I had no choice, which I did and still do. I could say I’m sorry, and that is true, but it’s not enough. I need to change, and with God’s help, I will.
Every time this nation has confronted racism other big issues have arisen which diverted and distracted us before the job of ending racism was completed. It is probably true that this is happening again due to the virus and because of continuing political turmoil related to Trumpism, Trump’s attempted coup of January 6, the rise of domestic terrorism and white supremacist groups, Trump’s impeachment, future leadership and direction of the Republican Party, the cultish insanity of conspiracy believers and on, and on. While these issues are important, they will pass, but make no mistake, racism is a deadly cancer that has been metastasizing for 400 years. Racism will not go away until we confront and cure it. It will kill us if we don’t.
Since completing this blog, the Capitol was invaded by an angry, violent mob, incited by Trump, some with Confederate flags, and many state governments have been exceedingly busy creating new voter suppression laws in anticipation of stealing future elections. Is this what “protecting our culture” looks like? If so, I want no part of it.