We are at a crossroads in America. Racial tensions have reached a point where we can no longer pretend that racism is not an issue in our country, and we have a choice to make: do we focus on which group did what and when and who started the fires first and which groups are infiltrating what protests? Or do we step back and take a good, long long look at the systemic racism that led us to the point where a police officer killed a man for a $20 crime. Or where two men confronted and gunned a man down for jogging. These are just the most recent--and most publicized--accounts of how minority Americans are being treated at the hands of their fellow Americans.
This cannot continue.
The idea that the color of our skin should afford us differing amounts of respect or basic human rights is preposterous. It's eggregious that skin color influences how we're treated, especially by those who have the responsibility to treat us equally under the law. I cannot know the special pain that minorities feel every day as they experience disrespect in so many forms and from so many people, simply because they are of a different race. I can't begin to understand how much this permeates their lives and influences their everyday decisions. I will never come close to recognizing the privilege I carry simply because I was born a white woman.
What I can do is listen to understand the difficulties others face without dismissing or diminishing their experiences or feelings. I can understand that being the target of racism every day is a burden that nobody should have to bear. I can believe, even without video proof, those who give voice to their experiences of horrific treatment because of their race.
Today we are at the crossroads (and not for the first time), facing either a future of working together to finally heal this gaping wound of racism, or a future of more killing and rioting and division. Healing will not be quick or easy, but it starts when we take that step back and take a good, long look at ourselves and how we treat others. It also starts with calling out racism when we see and hear it among our acquaintances, co-workers, and even family members and friends. We can look beyond ourselves and strive to understand those who suffer the effects of racism and how our actions may contribute to their suffering.
The healing America aches for starts with you and with me. Let's choose to heal together.