Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Until Black Lives Matter: No Lives will Matter

Throughout the years I have had many friends that were Americans of Color.  Sometimes when I hear other people say that they have Black and Latino friends, it sounded so cliché.  Like saying look, I'm not a racist or like they are hiding something.  I was taught that the color of one's skin was never supposed to be a consideration in anything. In reality, most Americans have little knowledge or even care about the Black American Experience.

These friends of color that I had in High School, in the Army and in my personal life to this day weren't just casual acquaintances.  They were people that I hung out with, shared meals with, in my younger days, chased women with.  Then in my adult life, raised children with, went on vacation with, laughed, and cried with.   In the military, the people you serve with become your family.  

Very early on, I knew that society treated them much differently than they do me, and this continues.  At first, I dismissed it as everyone gets poorly treated every so often.  For years I looked the other way.   Saying to myself, this is just the way the world is.  Even joking with my friends, you should be thankful we put your ass on that boat and brought your ancestors here.  Do you still really want to be in Africa? 

Then as the years passed, I realized this goes much deeper.  I have seen that I get better service in restaurants when pulled over by the police for a traffic offense I would get a warning.  During any contact with law enforcement, the benefit of the doubt was given to me.  When out in society with my friends of color they were always treated with caution, sometimes my sudden presence would change the situation dramatically. 

Over the years, it became painful to see, but I saw signs of hope, an election of a black president, and a mostly color blind military that I served in for over 20 years. (more on this later).   With the election of our current president, racism seemed to magnify itself,  people wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s.  I heard people actually saying we are now going back in the right direction of white privilege. 

Any white person like myself should acknowledge that there are racist among us, we all know who they are. I'm here to say we have tolerated them long enough.  It is a stain on our history that we fail to recognize it or most of the time ignore it. To not know systematic racism in the institutions of society, to ignore it is to stand with the racist; it's that simple.  I have done this, now I realize it was a mistake. 

It's sad that it is had to come to this.  That people have to take to the streets. Only to highlight a reality that has always been right underneath our noses.   We have to turn the table with the past.  We all must come together, black, white, brown, and all in between the lines of color.  People willing to change should be celebrated, those that don't need to be ostracized. We all need to forgive but never forget.  This is where change begins.