There is no one, probably literally no one, who hasn’t been made aware of or participated in the protests around the world against state killings of black people in our country. As I’m writing …
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There is no one, probably literally no one, who hasn’t been made aware of or participated in the protests around the world against state killings of black people in our country. As I’m writing this, people around the country are beginning to celebrate Juneteenth (the historical day to celebrate the end of slavery), and south metro residents are getting ready for a community walk in Littleton to honor that black lives matter. And still others are preparing for a training on how to talk about race with their loved ones. Today nationally, Facebook pulled an ad from an official presidential re-election campaign using a white supremacist Nazi symbol.
It’s all around us. It actually always has been, but some of us just haven’t seen it till now. We haven’t needed to. Many of us predominantly white suburbanites are now struggling with what to think, how to talk, and what to do in our homogenized communities. Are our systems actually set up to discriminate against people of color? No, that can’t be. Unless ... it is. It can no longer be dismissed as fake news. The statistics and the lives lost are very real. The daily fears of black people while just walking down the street, going to church, or driving in their cars are real. We can no longer dismiss racism as nonexistent. It’s on the news, in our boardrooms, and in our neighborhoods.
Although public lynchings of black people have been going on since they arrived on our continent, why is it that we didn’t respond to the peaceful protests of people like Martin Luther King or Colin Kaepernick against these injustices before? As a society, we have taken some measures for civil rights, equity, and equality for all people. I did myself in the state Senate. But if these incremental measures were enough, why are we still living with systems that are clearly harmful to the lives of people of color, particularly, black folks?
So what do we do now? As I started learning a few years ago, it’s not enough to be a white bystander any longer, not even solely a witness. Or an armchair quarterback who just spouts their opinion about events in the news. If we are being silent, we are part of the problem. If there is systemic racism in our governments, businesses, and communities (which historians agree that our nation was founded on), we are all part of the problem. We are all complicit unless we are taking direct action to break down the unjust systems and rebuild fair and equitable systems that our Constitution allegedly declares we should have.
I know my work will never be done and never be enough to reconcile all the harms caused by my white ancestors and my current complicity. But that doesn’t absolve me from doing my part. I can at least do what I can, which will hopefully make a difference in some people’s lives.
If we don’t act now, what will we be facing in another few years? Or our children or grandchildren? For ideas to help create a community where we ALL feel safe to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, check out some resources at www.lindanewell.org.
Formerly a Colorado state senator, now with a Master’s in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, filmmaker, and facilitator. She may be reached at Senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.
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