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SLIPPING BACK INTO SILENCE?
SLIPPING BACK INTO SILENCE?
Gary Norris Gray-BASN- Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA-When President Obama eulogized Pastor Clementa Pinkney after the slayings in Charleston, S.C. The President cautioned that it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence. Silence that kills young African Americans.
With the recent death of 28 year old African American Sandra Bland in her jail cell we all should be asking have things really changed? Emergency alarm bells all over this nation should be ringing loud and clear. Ms. Sandra Bland was stopped by a white police officer in the racially troubled County of Waller, Texas. One day after Bland’s death an 18 year old female died in her cell in Alabama. Kindra Chapman allegedly stole a cell phone and was sent to jail. The police in both cases claimed that these young women committed suicide. Coincidence?
We are slowly slipping into that comfortable silence AGAIN!!!
The questions need to be asked, have we slipped back into the same, but now un-comfortable, silence? Are we lulled by the Major League Baseball pennant races, by the major tennis matches, by the start of the National Football League season in August, by the other joys of summer? Are we still being distracted, deluded, losing our way when it comes to race relations in the United States?
Big Brother, Catfish, The Real World, Cribs, Pimp My Ride, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, You Think You Can Dance or Sing, America’s Got Talent, Housewives of What-ever City. These are the issues that have garnered the mindset of America not social, political, or racial issues.
It’s important to review the actual text of the President’s words, extracted from his moving video, to remember his words of that moment. Mr. Obama said “None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight.”
America continues to drag its feet when it comes to racial justice and equality. The election of an African American to the highest office in the land does not dismiss America of its violent racial past.
The President continues “Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There’s no shortcut. And we don’t need more talk anymore it is time for action. None of us should believe that a handful of gun safety measures will prevent every tragedy. It will not. … Whatever solutions we find will necessarily be incomplete.”
“But it would be a betrayal. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual — that’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change — that’s how we lose our way again.”
Less than a month after the President’s words, with the eulogies delivered and the TV cameras moved on as he said, has the nation done anything in the direction of hard work beyond such symbolic gestures as removing a Confederate flag by one state, South Carolina?
Now comes the really hard part; of talking to each other, understanding the pain of racial injustice or the joy of racial accomplishments. We STILL cannot be truthful to each other in 2015. The continuation of DISABLING issues such as the real legacy of over 200 years of slavery, over 100 years of legal and social discrimination-JIM CROW LAWS, 50 years of overt legal segregation and another 50 years of covert racism, RED LINING communities, not granting home loans to qualified African-Americans and other people of color, lack of education, racial profiling, the unbalanced sentencing of Blacks to whites-mass incarceration by prisons for profit, NOW 30 years of subliminal racism, police alleged shootings of African American men and alleged brutality.
THAT’S over 400 years of racial strife in the United States. This cannot be turned around in eight years.
“It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits, whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism,” the President said.
“For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.”
Until we deal with America’s corrupt unbalanced system and the roots of institutionalized racism we are like a dog chasing its own tail going round and round and round.
Even in sports we (America) have taken baby steps, afraid to take the big leap of faith and true justice.
In football Black quarterbacks and African American middle linebackers are not looked at in the same light as their white counterparts as they perform the same duties. In baseball Black pitchers and catchers are hard to find on the diamond. There are only 87 African American players in Major League Baseball. Black managers and head coaches are more difficult to find in both sports.
In basketball there was an unwritten rule that only three African Americans could be on the floor at the same time. Nobody ever questioned this rule, it was just accepted and we all moved on. That unwritten rule was rescinded in 1975 because Black talent overwhelmed the league and could not be denied.
BLACK MALES CANNOT BE LEADERS- That’s institutionalized racism and glaringly false.
Did not quarterback Russell Wilson lead the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl in back to back years? Mr. Wilson-a.k.a. THE FIELD GENERAL won more games in three years, more than any other quarterback in the National Football League
The President continues “Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate. Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system — and leads us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias; that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure.
“For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation. Sporadically, our eyes are open: When eight of our brothers and sisters are cut down in a church basement, 12 in a movie theater, and 26 in an elementary school. But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day; the countless more whose lives are forever changed — the survivors crippled, the children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school, the husband who will never feel his wife’s warm touch, the entire communities whose grief overflows every time they have to watch what happened in some other place.”
Just before he sang the hymn “Amazing Grace,” the President stated that “If we can tap that grace, everything can change.”
A month later, have we tapped that grace? We don’t need more talk, but have we begun the discussion of race and violence?
The answer is no
Have we moved in the direction of change? Or are we betraying the fallen of Charleston?
America has betrayed itself by its actions or inaction. We tell the world we are the land of the free and the home of the brave but what are we when one part of the population cannot get equal treatment or protection under the law, this is a farce. What are we when the country treats cultures differently just because of their skin tone.
Where are you, Rosa Parks? You taught American how to boycott and still survive
Where are you, Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.?
“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.“
“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” “
Where are you, Honorable Reverend Minister Malcolm X?
Colorblindness will not end racism. We must take action pretending racism does not exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.
This will be a long journey.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at email@example.com
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