[di·a·logue]: A discussion between two or more people or groups, especially one directed towards the exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem
Last year was a pivotal year in the United States for what is being called the 'new' civil rights movement. 2014. The year when the deaths of unarmed Black men, all at the hands of police, all across the country, ignited a full-fledged national civil rights movement. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. The deaths continued into 2015: Walter Scott; Freddie Gray; Sandra Bland; the burning of prominent Black churches. And so did the growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, the power of the Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name and, this past weekend, the Million Man March demonstrations are undeniable; there is a serious race problem in this country and the civil outrage and unrest is only growing stronger.
You may read this and think that you're sick and tired of reading about Black Lives, about police brutality...about race and racism. Yes, you may be sick and tired of reading about all of this, but have you ever talked about it, talked about race, this movement that is occurring all around us, to your friends, family, community? I may be wrong, but I would say that we haven't even begun the conversation. Especially in non-black multi-ethnic communities.
As a non-Black person, you may think this has nothing to do with you: You may never fear for your life when you walk down the street; your only run-in with law enforcement may be for minor driving infractions; you may never have any interest in protesting or making a civic stance of any kind. But this is where you are wrong. Because what is happening with this movement is only a small reflection of the deeply entrenched systemic and structural manifestations of racism, which, black or non-black, affects us all.
The deaths, the communities in shock, the lack of accountability, the deafening protests; this movement is not just about black people and black lives. It is about the fundamental principles of justice and equality which affect you, me, our children. It is about an epidemic of racism so perverse and so deeply rooted throughout the structures which make up the very fabric of American society, that unstopped, will destroy every conception we've ever had about justice, equality, and the goodness of humanity. Think of some of the greatest injustices in our history: the Holocaust, genocide, slavery. The underlying root has always been about race and discrimination.
Systemic racism entails that within every institution within our society, there are disparities in the access to an equal quality of life. And systemic institutional racism is built upon individuals and communities of privilege. So we have to question ourselves, our own attitudes, are we perpetuating the disparities caused by racism? Are we in denial about the existence of racism? Because by not talking, by only watching and reading about this movement, we are the ones reinforcing the systemic manifestations of racism. If you are sick and tired of reading about Black lives, you may not be the one to ever pull the trigger, but you are contributing to the systemic acquiescence that injustice to others is tolerable and that racism is acceptable.
I have been following the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of Trayvon Martin. I have read all the news stories, liked articles on social media, cheered silently in supposed alliance with the movement. I have always been convicted that what has happened, is happening, to Black communities is fundamentally wrong. Unjust. In direct contravention to every value and principle I hold as a firm believer in human rights for all. I have always wanted to voice my alliance and just wasn't sure how to begin. So here I am, beginning a conversation, a dialogue, because that is how we begin to seek solutions. That is how we being to end our passive acquiescence about racism.
A recent Census Bureau report predicts that by 2044, visible minorities will become the racial majority in the United States. The term "visible minority" will no longer exist because we will be the majority. We need to embrace this unquestionable future of racial diversity in America. We need to start building collaboratives and coalitions - not only because they are self-serving and convenient -- but because there is a powerful strength in numbers to do what is right. Because racism is one cause where we, visible minority or not, Black or not, all need to come together as allies for a common goal.
So let's start by talking about race. Together.