When we realize how much we’ve been failing each other as we have in the wake of the death of George Floyd, we tend to try to close our hearts. We lock ourselves away from the pain by getting into old patterns of thinking. But as Winston Churchill said when he borrowed from George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Black people and the institution of policing have never had a good relationship. That is because of policing’s roots in slavery. Learn about how these systems were created to protect the interest on the enslavers. I don’t blame them. Like most of us, they don’t know or face their history. I hold responsible the system that created this relationship and then excuses itself from any culpability. That rather than own it’s foundational history, chooses to exaggerate and perpetuate a narrative of Black criminality.
If you want to do something, educate yourself. Have awkward embarrassing conversations. Make mistakes in your efforts to learn. Forgive yourself and others. Repeat.
And watch The 13th on Netflix and learn about things like the conflict leasing program that they used to reenslave us after emancipation.
Look into organizations such as Facing History and Ourselves
Connect with a local NAACP chapter. and don’t think that just because you’re not Black or something that you can’t participate in the NAACP. I know plenty of people who do. Also the NAACP was started by White and Black people. (Mary White Ovington, Henry Moskowitz, William English Walling and Oswald Garrison Villard, along with such African Americans as W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Archibald Grimke and Mary Church Terrell.) Look it up. Know your history!
Lastly, learned to say “I don’t know.” You can’t learn if you think you have all of the answers.
Are we learning?
I was a young man when Rodney King’s video went public. That was a new thing then. An anomaly, we thought.
How many videos of beatings, abuse, shooting, and otherwise killing have I seen since then?
I don’t even know.
I care though.
I’m not saying we are learning. Just that we can learn. Many won’t learn. But if a few more of us do, we can make some progress. I’ve had people who knew I went through some stuff reach out and apologize for not wanting to see it before when I told them about racism. That’s something. I’m not holding them to it next week when they might forget again. But in the moment, I’m sharing what they could do if they want to keep learning. The only people who don’t have a choice are those under the knee of the system.
Excellent article, thanks for your most thoughtful commentary
Sandy, thank you for your consideration Spirit. You are a guiding light for so many of us.
I apologize for the sudden, and unexpected hiatus from blogging and from the conversation started here. I did not intend for it.
I am, however, seeking to build on it over at my blog. I especially seek feedback from black friends and family – and strangers too. So I invite you and your readers to please give Fat Beggars a chance, especially with regard to the new series of posts I am bringing in effort to engage the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
Here is a link to the first in the series:
Thank you and God bless…
I’ll check it out when I get the chance. Thanks for writing.