Frustration, anger, fear and hate are ripping through the facades and fabric of our democracy. After centuries of slavery and, despite emancipation, all of its abusive, demeaning and deadly after-effects, many, many people in this country have had it with racism.
For even longer, Native Americans, exploited by the first European settlers who took their lands, slaughtered and enslaved them, herding them onto reservations, have suffered the arrogant cruelties of racism to this day. And they are not the only ones. Hispanics, Asian Americans, Muslims and other “people of color” have felt the eyes, heard the slurs (and worse) and gagged on the arrogance of Whites putting them in place.
Racism is a cancer in any society. It has been with us since our nation’s very beginnings. Its suspicions of minorities, the harassments, unjust arrests and imprisonments, cruelties and killings can no longer be ignored. Nor can the voices and outrage of Americans of every race, color and creed. The time has come to make America what its Constitution claims it to be. The time has come for actions, not just words.
If racism is to be eradicated from our society, it must be confronted in its every form. Almost all Americans need to look inward at their silence, passivity and “Not me” denials of complicity in letting racism have its way. And that’s just for starts. Activating families, friends and communities to take a stand, to shout “Enough! No more,” and appreciate, aid and abet diversity for what it offers, comes next.
Any American worthy of the name needs to take a stand against white nationalistic bias, racist supremacists, extremist and hate groups, still refusing to get the message. Fueling their hate by the use of violence is not the way to do that. Language, laws and consistency will take time but the continued growth of peaceful protests can shorten that. A more honest history of our land needs to be taught in our schools, dramatized in our media. Racist mindsets need toppling far more than statues; passivity, indifference, and arrogance need to give way to the activism of acceptance, understanding and love.
Our nation is on the brink of finding itself. Its citizens are learning in the hardest of ways that freedom was never meant to be selfish. The vision of our Founding Fathers was for them just that, a vision, but one worth pursuing. They weren’t there yet but they penned the words that spelled it out and to this day keeps it within reach.
This 4th of July – and the days and years to follow — must not only honor that vision but bring its meaning closer to reality. Racism has no place in: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”