Confronting racism in our nation’s history and today’s society needs to work much better than it has until now. In its efforts to do so, Evanston has realized, as have other cities that try, that there is no quick fix. Recognizing biases in self is essential, but that is merely the starting point. Helping family and friends to do the same comes next. But if confronting racism nationwide is to result in real change, neighborhoods and communities everywhere must also become heavily involved.
Shouting about and decrying the evening news of the latest obscenity, at home or with friends, does little to solve the problem. But involving neighborhoods and communities can create grassroots concern and action. Making that happen will take time and persistence. The ugly deaths of George Floyd and others and the loud ongoing bang of recent months can easily become a too familiar whimper if we give in to old patterns and settle for same old, same old without a nationwide attitude change.
Black Lives Matter. For hundreds of years that truth has been ignored. The disease of racism in our country has been taking its toll on people of color on all levels. Ours is a country that avows, and in which most believe, that all are created equal, where citizens are free to be who and how they are. Diversity among us should be a strength, a creative force, not a battleground.
Which brings me to — what if …
- a diverse action groups in communities everywhere formed and met to find ways to promote diversity and confront racism in all its forms?
- those communities recognized and owned up to the chasms between races in economics, education and social justice, then worked together to set things right?
- reason, not rage, and dialogue, not violence, and peaceful, persistent protests result in workable and effective ways to change attitudes and repair past injustices?
- ·neighbors and communities commit to confront and challenge those elements across our land that refuse to treat others with dignity and respect; e.g., refusing to do business with organizations or businesses that espouse racist ideas and action? And , finally and practically:
- someone with far more energy than I possess pick up this gauntlet, create neighborhood and community task forces and encourage others to do the same?
If our country can claim a dream as possible, can live and just not recite the words of its Founding Fathers, the deadly disease of racism can be treated, contained and over time cured. We deserve to live celebrating life and one another, respecting and embracing diversity and all its gifts.
I did not write the above with what follows in mind. But I’m left humming it – words by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh:
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star.