This weekend I had “the talk” AGAIN with my sons, two young multiracial teenagers, so that they can understand what happened in Charlottesville and the risks and racism and white supremacy that exist in the world they live in every day in this nation.
Like many of you, my ancestors fought for the freedoms we enjoy in this land, and worked to overcome racism and bigotry to create a more just nation. It is time for our generation to accept our responsibility, overcome the temptation of silence, and do our part. There is no middle ground, no compromise, no place for neutrality. Each of us must actively oppose racism and white supremacy, or admit that we are comfortable with the impact it has on others.
But since our Constitution contains that revolutionary ideal that we are all created equal, be aware that your claim to be an American or patriot is simply a hollow claim if you do not oppose racism and white supremacy. You can’t be a true American if you condone ideals that are so demonstrably un-American.
I have been in this work for so long. Today, my heart is heavy, but my resolve is strong. I pray for all those who were killed or hurt in Charlottesville, and for their loved ones. I pray for the souls and consciences of those whose hearts have been hardened by racism, that they will awaken from their fear and see our common humanity, accept the error of their ways, and see the truth of how they have been manipulated by those who have used them to acquire power and wealth, and save themselves through the hard work of reconciliation with those they have wronged. Today, I know my work and the work of the Center for Equity in Learning – and the collective work of so many others to achieve equity – is more critical than ever. But we have to create the future that we want. It will not simply appear because we want it to.
Our nation was founded 241 years ago, and within the space of the next 20 years or so we will become a majority non-White nation. We are in the hard transitional era that precedes such a tectonic social shift. We must be honest and earnest in doing the work that must be done, the work that has always needed to be done, to help this nation live up, fully, to its commitment to justice for all.