Here Together in Our Pain
A message from Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity.
We are not okay. How could we be? Continued acts of violence toward members of the black community have shaken our souls, left ineffaceable images in our minds, and fractured our hearts. Within the community, there is fear as we wonder who among us is next? Anger as we contemplate why these acts continue to happen. Sadness as we reckon with the fact each atrocity reaffirms that all people are clearly not created equal. At the intersection of all of our emotions is the realization that the existence of racism has yet to be openly acknowledged. A mere utterance of the word solicits cringe-worthy responses by those who attempt to justify the motives behind the actions that create injury within the black community; while giving rise to discomfort in others who would rather it remain a secret locked deep in the bowels of our social structure where it has no impact upon them. Continued denial of what is so clearly obvious is both shameful and disgusting and continues to perpetuate the disenfranchisement of a people. No longer can we sit silently idle while our communities are subjected to the racial contract that has plagued our country. To continue to deny that racism exists in our culture would be comparable to denying oneself of the nutrients that are essential for survival. Abstinence in the short-term is possible, however, long-term deprivation would result in catastrophic injury and suffering. The deprivation of equality and the preservation of racist ideals have caused catastrophic injury and suffering to the black community for far too long. We can no longer elect to occasionally treat the symptoms of racism in our society. This disease must be eradicated completely. A remedy, however, cannot be achieved without the admission that racism still exists. As Dr. King (1968) posited in his speech at Grosse Point High School:
We will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is. It is the nymph of an inferior people. It is the notion that one group has all of the knowledge, all of the insights, all of the work, all of the purity, all of the dignity. And another group is worthless, or on a lower level of humanity, inferior. To put it in philosophical language, racism is not based on some empirical generalization which, after some studies, would come to conclusion that these people are behind because of environmental conditions. Racism is based on an ontological affirmation. It is the notion that the very being of a people is inferior.
His words maintain their relevance in American culture some 52 years later. Violent acts of racism have eroded the hope of a nation at a time where the strength of togetherness held remarkable value. The uncertainty of our current circumstance coupled with the global pandemic amplifies the intensity of the times. Now more than ever we call upon those who can speak truth into power, bravely denouncing the oppressive acts that have created dissension within our communities. We must be willing to display a courageous vulnerability as we share with others how these tragedies have impacted our lives. We must engage in a unified dialogue not to cast blame on a villain; rather partner in a collaborative fashion to generate ways in which we can raise awareness, educate others, and reconstruct the social agreement around race in our communities. In the words of Fredrick Douglas, “the feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the priority of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against man must be proclaimed and denounced” (Douglas, F., 1852).
To our community, Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity stands with you. Our hearts are fractured along with yours. We see you, we love you, and honor you. With open arms, we welcome you to join us as we continue this dialogue at our next general membership meeting June 18th. You are not alone...we are not alone. Together we will let every voice be heard. Together we will continue to persevere. Together we will prepare to rise united and meet this moment.
Douglas, F. (1852). What to a slave is the fourth of july. Speech. Corinthian Hall. Rochester, NY. Retrieved from https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources/texts/what-to-the-slave-is-the-fourth-of-july.
King, M.L., Jr. (1968). Two americas. Speech. Grosse Pointe High School. Grosse Pointe, MI. Retrieved from https://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/mlk-gp-speech.pdf.
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