This weekend we will celebrate independence in our country.
There will be fireworks, fun decorations, and hopefully some really good food.
And yet, in the midst of everything that is happening right now, it is a day that should cause us to pause and reflect on where we started. Where we have been. Where we are. And where we are going.
In recent days, I came across a quote from the Vice President of the Confederate States of America that shed some light on the tug of war that’s been happening within me of late:
“The Constitution… rested upon the equality of races. This was an error. Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Though this statement is disturbing on many levels and lays bear the truth behind the most divisive war our nation has ever fought (no, it was not about state’s rights), it did raise up one very helpful thought: the Constitution was created with an opportunity to do and be better.
Even as our founding document literally wrote white supremacy into law – stating that people of color were worth only 3/5 of a white man – it also left an opening for us to evolve. Unfortunately we have been caught up recovering from this horrifying statement of value (not rights, since they were afforded none and the 3/5 was to make their white masters have a better vote) ever since.
What we are witnessing in this country is a new kind of revolution. This time, instead of taking it on piecemeal, we are finally naming the virus that has been invading and sickening our nation since its very inception: white supremacy.
Racially-motivated police brutality is merely a symptom. Racial slurs, also a symptom. White people thinking they have authority over BIPOC is one of the most egregious symptoms. And there are countless more.
In order to truly. move forward, it is going to take more than simply winning hearts and minds. We need to take on the system this time. We need to change our laws to reflect the ideals we strive for – that all people are created equal.
The good news is that there is hope. We have the opportunity to change the reality in our country. But it will take a whole lot of hard work on multiple levels.
So, where do we begin?
It depends on who you are as you read this.
If you are a BIPOC, please know that you are beautiful, stronger than many can understand, and I (and so many others) are truly grateful for your witness. Your actions in these coming days are something I have no right to speak to.
If you are white (as I am), dismantling white supremacy starts with you. It starts with me. Start by naming it as the reality that it is. Then actually read the books on it – not to make yourself look good, but to truly learn. Then find what ways you can get involved in BLM, Poor People’s Campaign, LGBTQ rights, or any other movement supporting the previously denigrated, demonized, and destroyed lives that calls to you. Speak up and out. Donate to organizations working for these movements. Wear their symbols as a sign of solidarity. Wave flags and signs. And yes, protest (especially once the pandemic is over if it is unsafe for you now).
This is a fight for the very soul of our nation. And none of us is free until we are all free.
So please hear this post for what it is: a plea. I believe in America. I believe in all that we can be. I believe in the true American dream: that one day, we will live up to our ideals that all humans are created equal.
I pray for that dream daily, for I know the symphony that Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke of is not yet finished. But I also know that prayer without action is useless. So I will speak up. I will stand with all those who our nation has cast out or cast down. I will do everything in my power to support these movements. I will do all I can to dismantle and eradicate white supremacy from our systems and our hearts.
The real question is, will you join me?