The Uncomfortable Truth

The future of our nation will rely on our ability to grapple with its darkest history.

People have a tendency to be outraged by injustice and inequality.

It seems unusual and unreasonable to be outraged when someone exercises a liberty, freedom or right.

However, in America’s past and present; we have seen this very phenomenon.

September 25, 2017 was the 60th anniversary of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine African American students who were the first to integrate Little Rock Central High Scholl in 1957.

Their integration came three years after the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” as unconstitutional in America’s public schools.

These nine students walked into the school to get their education; it was a basic right being asserted. Their police-escorted entrance was met with protesters who yelled at them, cursed at them, and threatened them for their choice to exercise the right to attend a school and get an education.

This asserted right was met with disapproval, anger, and outrage.

Sixty years later, protests against injustice, racism, hatred and division are not a thing of the past.

Today, 60 years after the Little Rock Nine integration, over 50 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and not long after the election of America’s first African American president, the battle continues. 

Calls for equality have been met with opposition and outrage. 

Americans demanding the right to freely vote are met with accusations of voter fraud. A response to “Black Lives Matter” is “All Lives Matter.” Those calling to remove Confederate statues are accused of trying to “change history.” “Taking a knee” against police brutality is viewed as disrespect to our flag and our military. 

Here’s the truth; there is outrage in the African American community to police brutality; outrage in the unchecked and unpunished deaths of black bodies. No convictions, no consequences. There is a continued need for criminal justice reform, and people are outraged. There is outrage when minorities are being disrespected, disregarded and dismissed when it comes to asserting rights and freedoms. When it comes to injustice, we all should be outraged.

There is a protected right to freedom of speech and peaceful protests in this country. There is a right to speak up, stand up, or even kneel to call for change.

But sometimes, change is uncomfortable.

Unheard or uncommon truth can be uncomfortable. But our passion and efforts cannot simply accommodate what is comfortable. 

There’s an old saying: What’s right is not always easy; what’s easy is not always right.

America has a tangled past, but our present should reflect our progress."

In America, there was a time when segregated schools were the norm, and many were comfortable with “separate but equal.”

In America, “whites only” and “colored only” were common signs that were carefully followed. In America, there was a time when slavery was the norm, and many were comfortable with that.

But this comfort had a requirement. A requirement to turn a blind eye to the pain, suffering and disenfranchisement of those who were not so comfortable.

I’ve said many times that a politician without compassion is a criminal.

And I believe a country without compassion, empathy and understanding is inherently immoral. This is not the America I know.

America has a tangled past, but our present should reflect our progress. We must be a country of compassion, and that includes empathy for the disenfranchised.

Together as a country, we must face head-on some of the uncomfortable truths when it comes to the matters of racism, inequality and injustice in America.

It’s time to not just do what’s easy, it’s time to do what’s right.