Why did it take so long to get here?
I can’t answer that. But thank God we’re here.
Why did it take the brutal and public slow-motion murder of George Floyd for white people, like me, to stop hesitating and get passionately onboard with Black Lives Matter?
I don’t know but I think for me it may have been the solitude of the Stay at Home order and the time and quiet that came with it. The pandemic forced us into an uncomfortable retreat. When we have time and solitude, we sometimes hear our souls speak.
My soul said: Damn It, Not One More.
I’ve been quiet so long that when I started to speak up, the words wouldn’t come. I’m beginning to see that I have so much to say that I can’t cover it all at once.
And that’s the whole point, really. People like me need to speak up and keep speaking, making it clear to those in power that we will not tolerate state-sponsored murder.
What matters now is for the killing to stop. And for the system that is killing black people to be overhauled until it no longer leads to harassment, oppression, incarceration, and death for people who are just living their lives.
African Americans need white people to speak up. They need our understanding and they need our numbers. They also need our emotional support.
To become effective allies, white people need to deal with their shame over what is still happening. And we need to act to make things right.
To become effective allies, whites need to process that shame and eventually move on to inspired action. On that path, healing needs to happen. The African tradition of Truth and Reconciliation offers one inspiring model.
To become effective allies, white people need to build a fairer world together with black people and with all people of color and that requires a strong foundation.
One of the first bricks that must be laid in this foundation is an apology. I know how lame it may sound for whites to apologize now after 400 years of hell. It is the definition of Too Little Too Late. But seriously, we need it to build a strong foundation between White Americans and African Americans. For us never to apologize is a gross oversight that threatens what we need to build.
So for whatever it is worth, and to whomever is open to it, I am deeply sorry for the abuse, oppression, and sheer cluelessness of white people in their treatment of black people.
I’m not asking for forgiveness because burdening the abused with a plea for absolution is just self-serving. And because my kind has already taught black people that we can’t be trusted.
Forgiveness will come when white people earn it.
So much more needs to be said and listened to. Mostly, whites need to listen.
This is just the beginning. And beginnings hold great possibilities.
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