Over the years I have witnessed many protests both violent and peaceful. I have also seen many cities tore up and burning because of social unrest. I was in the middle of a riot once while working some years ago. I was scared, but I made it out of the city after my deliveries that night largely due to a black man I worked with that ran the same route in this predominantly black neighborhood who knew the area well and he instructed me in detail on how, as he put it, “I could get my white ass out of there if something ever did happen.” I am pretty sure my ass would have been in big trouble without some of those instructions that night because people did throw bottles and strike the vehicle I was in with bats and sticks and I was called a honky and other angry words more times that night than I had ever heard before in my life. The smell of tear gas that had been propelled into a building next to a group of people is something I will never forget or the chaos that ensued in that neighborhood because of a an incident that shined a light on racism, unfairness, or perhaps I should say the persistent inequity in treatment between people in this country often by the people who are supposed to protect and serve us all. Unfortunately, behind these incidents there is always dead body with dark skin that cause many of us to cry injustice and to get angry for a little while. For an instant, the people in this country who are in the majority are forced to come face to face with the reality of the hidden racism in this country and indifference shown to people in the minority and some in the majority hate to have their silent racism rubbed in their face. Nevertheless, every time something like this happens most people of all races and creeds hope that this time the death of a brown skinned man or woman because of callous indifference will be the last and some meaningful change occur. Often change in the way of social reforms to attempt to keep what happened from happening again does occur, but what doesn’t change is how we think or how perceive each other and as long as that doesn’t change being guilty of just simply being black in America will continue to occur.
The question before us is what will make our racism, or our unfairness or indifference to others end? When will these senseless deaths from callous indifference that cause violence to erupt across our nation stop? It will end the day a white person can look at black person and not see the color of their skin first and when a black person can look a white person and not see the color of their skin first. The day a guy looking at hot girls on the beach doesn’t lean over to his friend and say look at that hot girl over there without having to add the descriptive black or African American to distinguish her from the other hot girls. The day a person gets angry at someone that does not look like them or wear the same skin color and the first thing that pops in their mind is not a derogatory term connected to their skin color or race. The day we realize that there is no such thing as a black problem or white problem, but that it is a problem for all of us. The day when people stop talking about racism because as long as we are talking about racism, we have a race problem. The day people of all races, creeds, colors realize that we are in this thing called life together and that when one of us bleeds we all bleed. The day we as a people stop allowing the psychological chains of slavery to bind us to attitudes, thoughts, and feelings that imbue the very soul of our nation. The day we stop allowing the grotesque ghosts of “Jim Crow” to lynch the hearts and minds of generation after generation people. The day a special fear constructed from our ugly history no longer exists. A fear that forces brown moms and dads to have a special conversation with their children at a certain point in their lives about the white people that could hurt them, especially those who might wear a badge. When that day comes there will be no more senseless deaths from simply being guilty of being black in America. When that day comes, we will have arrived at that elusive but magical place some of us heard about many years ago from a wise man that died trying to get us there, a place called the “promised land.”