Fear and action
To the editor:
The incident of racist police brutality in Minneapolis took our focus away from COVID-19. The pandemic woke us all up – it seems like nature’s way of saying, “STOP! You are mortal creatures! What are you doing with your time on the planet?” Now that we are awake and our hearts have been softened by anxiety, we have been given something meaningful to do: deal with the injustice we have allowed to corrupt our nation’s soul.
Antiracism is the active opposition to the white privilege that is embedded in our history. For too long white people have participated in the violence of silence. It’s time to reckon with our original sin and look honestly at ourselves in the mirror. Like shrapnel buried deep beneath our skin, racism needs to be allowed to work its way out so that we might be healed, as individuals and as a nation.
Fortunately, there are many resources that will help us. A good place to start is with Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism”. Or look into the exercises Jane Elliott has been leading, harshly, since 1968, when she separated her 3rd grade class based on eye color. Or watch the movie “Mudbound.” The first step is to catch ourselves every time we say or think, “I’m not racist.” You might as well say, “I never make mistakes.”
Outside forces are spreading disinformation designed to make us see the worst in each other, which, in turn, helps us justify our own bad behavior. Fortunately, many journalists are doing their best to ferret out the truth that is necessary for mutual understanding. It is our responsibility to seek the sorts of information that encourage us to look for the best in each other.
The world is watching to see if this republic, more diverse than any other nation on the planet, will address its racist tradition. Until we deal with the injustice we have allowed to fester since the first Europeans set foot on this continent, we cannot lead the world.
The solution to the pandemic will be found by scientists and shared by professionals. Racism and injustice must be solved by all of us, now.