Owning Responsibility

I love this country. I value the fact that due to no effort or wisdom on my part I grew up in the United States. This country has been good to me. However, regardless of my personal experience, others claim a different reality.  Julia Craven writes, “The system continues to fail Black people.” Our country, which has treated me so kindly, has not regarded others with equal respect. No one wins when the system continues to be rigged in favor of a few.

Police bashing will never provide a sensible answer. Most police want to serve and will risk their lives to protect others. When police make mistakes, we need to own the fact that our system did not education them well. Sometimes, family lessons twist minds. Misconceptions often continue in our schools and even our churches. Finally, police academies cement misconceptions by emphasizing guns rather than communication skills. However, the injuries to Blacks represent much more than a police problem.

Our judicial system appears spineless when the issues involve race. How many times have we witnessed brutality toward Black males on television, and later felt astonished when courts determined that the perpetrators did no wrong? Julia Craven claims that although 991 Black citizens were shot and killed in 2015, jury outcomes did not result in a single guilty verdict. Doesn’t that seem astonishing? That odd imbalance of verdicts suggests that attitudes rearrange facts in the minds of jurors.

Prior to stopping Philando Castile, a 32-year old school cafeteria worker, the officer recorded these words “I’m going to stop a car. I have reason to pull it over. The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery.” The officer continued by saying that Castile looked guilty because of his “wide-set nose.” Before I get too judgmental, I wonder if I have ever fallen into this same morass of attitude?

Any time I appear indifferent or claim innocence, I am just as guilty as those who openly cause injury based on unbridled hate. Last week, I bumped into racism in my doctor’s waiting room. As I approached the sign-in desk, I heard an angry conversation between the receptionist and a Black patient. As the argument unfolded, I learned that because the woman arrived a few minutes late, her appointment had been cancelled.

As I witnessed the altercation I remembered an occasion when I too arrived late at this office. I recalled apologizing. No problem. The doctor saw me without hesitation. Listening to the woman’s pleas, I felt safe to say, “Please give this woman my appointment. I can come back another day.” I knew I would be ok; not a big deal for me to reschedule.

However, I wonder how many times in my life I have looked the other way? How many times did I take the easy way out? No longer can any of us afford indifference. Injustice IS my business. It is your business. Those of us who have never been hurt or even inconvenienced by racial discrimination must step up, speak out, and insist on change. We simply cannot afford to look away any longer.

Telling Blacks to, “get over it” only digs the hole deeper. Perhaps they will begin to get over it when you and I give up our ill-conceived privileged status. This is our job — yours and mine. More than fixing the police, more than repairing the court system, you and I, with our white skin must join others as they seek to undo the incredible damage.

Work Cited:

Craven, Julia. “There Is No Justice in America For Black People Killed by Cops.” Huffpost. June 16, 2017.