Where have you been?!
By Jorge D.H. Prosperi, 2020
It took Darnella Frazier, a 17 year old girl, to decide to video 8 minutes and 46 seconds of a black man being murdered. She did not hesitate. She took action!
So what about those other minutes and seconds over some 401 years of oppression and injustices, when no video camera was filming, witnessing, documenting? Did those lives matter?
8 minutes and 46 seconds (seemingly a lifetime) indelibly burned into our souls as horrific and brutal reminders of the original mortal disease and reason for such murders – RACISM.
We are impressed by the number of white people who protest. Some marches show more white protesters than people of color. But the key question for all white people – protesting or not – is “Where have you been?” Where were you before those 8 minutes and 46 seconds? Where will you be next week, next month, next year? How about this November 2020?
White America will continue to pay only lip service until there is authentic legislation and action at the local levels of every rural, urban and suburban municipality resulting in policies fostered by the same urgency, motivation, and advocacy that people of color feel every second of every day.
Words, banners and marches can become all too quickly temporary – catchphrases – marketing tag lines on tee shirts. They can lead to corporations and schools creating more diversity workshops, discourse groups and think tanks. Such efforts make us feel good at the moment. But racism is not – never has been an event, but rather a living insidious social organism – a pathology infecting and oppressing through systemic power and control by the highest of authorities in power.
“Tell me who has the power, who is in control, the policies they promote, those they obstruct, what they are spending money on and I will tell you who matters and what they value.”
Racism will continue to plague America until every white American wakes up every morning with the same horrific reality that people of color live with – the raw stark reality that their lives DO NOT MATTER. Get a grip America – this is who we are in 2020.
This is the existence that people of color live with, be they doctors, priests, lawyers, teachers, authors, artists, TV cable anchors, journalists, entertainers, professional athletes, scholars, CEOs, entrepreneurs, Wall Street traders.
This is the deep-seated pang that each parent of color feels during that tight hug of a son or daughter leaving home for the day, not knowing whether that precious life will be inhumanely snuffed out from existence because their life did not matter.
This is the constant open wound that each black human being in America lives with 24/7- 365.
White America will come to terms with racism when it begins to critically examine the pathology of Racism at the earliest of ages and by white American adults acknowledging their personal responsibility, power of influence and commitment to dismantle institutional and personal tenets of Racism.
Change will not take place until white America comprehends from the “I” perspective unconscious white bias, white privilege, white entitlement, white supremacy, white domestic terrorism, white nationalism, white aversive racism, systemic racism, institutional racism, angry white men, white loss, white capital and the history of the science and construct of race.
All of this will need to take place by “white on white” without pandering or expecting gratification but with selfless emotional intelligence and relentless moral courage.
The process will be painful and difficult – highly personal – as white America goes through the process of ecdysis – shedding the capital of white skin – sloughing and molting – removing the parasites of -isms and phobias attached to a dead skin – allowing for growth and rebirth.
There is much work left undone – enough for another 401 years. This is the challenge awaiting white America beyond 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
To read more articles, the following essays are a 6-part commentary on racism