Tuesday, June 30, 2020

#182 / Ending The War

This image, above, we must take to heart.

The photograph is recent. I haven't been able to find the source, and to learn on which city street this image was captured. The photograph could have been taken in any number of American cities. After the police murder of George Floyd, filmed live, in Minneapolis, in all of its demoralizing cruelty, demonstrations have been held in cities across the entire United States.

Was this photo taken in Minneapolis? I don't know. Certainly it could have been. As I say, it could have been taken in any number of American cities. It could have been taken in your city. It could have been taken in mine. I got the photo from the Timeline of one of my Facebook Friends. It has spoken very powerfully to me, and to my own Facebook Friends, to whom I have passed it along. This is an image we must take to heart.

What is it, about this photo, that I find so affecting? Why does it bring tears to my eyes? I actually know why. It is that this young Black man, so worried, but so brave, has asked me to admit that I have been involved in a race war against him and all Black people, a war that continues, even now. "Not me! Not me! It's not true!" That is what I want to say. But he is right! He is right, and so brave, and this is an image we must take to heart. It is a challenge to which we, white people of good will, must respond.

We, white people of good will, must take every action we can to end this war.

It has been a very real "white privilege" that has kept most of us who are white from realizing that our society has, in fact, been waging a race war against Black people for something like four hundred years. The New York Times' "1619 project" is an effort to bring this truth to our collective attention. That claim, that our nation has maintained a continuing policy of oppression of Black people throughout our entire national existence, has now been published in our national "newspaper of record." The New York Times' story is a demand that we refuse, this time around, to push down, beneath our consciousness, the truth of the reality faced by Black men and women throughout this land.

We see them, don't we? Black people? Colleagues and employees, even our employers (sometimes), a president, wives and mothers, brothers and sisters, former slaves and the children of their children, parents and grandkids, great, great, great grandchildren, fellow citizens, all!

We must confront and take to heart the hard truth that is lettered on that sign. Below, I have linked a recent video. This video presents, in another way, the truth that the young man with the sign wants us to address.

According to notes found on the YouTube video presented below, filmmaker and photographer David Jones, of David Jones Media, "felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way." This was after the police murder of George Floyd. Jones decided to use his art to try to explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On Sunday, May 31st, he "activated his dear friend, author Kimberly Jones," to tag along with him and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now:

This is an angry denunciation, but do see what Kimberly Jones says at the end. With all the anger about Tulsa, with all the anger about Rosewood, Jones has the same message as the young man with the sign. Jones doesn't even list all the battlefields in the war against Black Americans. A larger list, linked here, is heartrending to read. Despite all that she recounts, here is what Kimberly Jones is saying, here is what the young man with the sign is saying: This is a war we are trying to end! Equality. Justice. Not revenge.

Of course, to end a war, both sides must decide to end it. The young man with the sign is speaking for Black America. "We are trying to end the war." It is time for white America to determine that we, too, will end the war. END it!

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times staff writer who just got the Pulitizer Prize for her work on the "1619 project," says it has been, and will be, "our choice." Isn't she right?

"You can go through life pretending that inequality just happens to be that way, but I hope that my work shows that it’s not: It’s created. We make choices, we’ve made choices for a long time, and our environment is because of those choices,” she said. “Until we confront that truth, we’ll never be able to make right what was wrong."

Look at these final pictures. Immediately below is a picture of Delbert Africa, as he was arrested in 1978. Read the story. The young black man shown below was a political protester, just as the brave young man in the photograph at the top of this posting is. And then, Delbert Africa was a prisoner of war. He was incarcerated for his entire adult life. Look at the picture of Delbert Africa after his release, early this year - just months before he died. How much joy to be restored to life and freedom. Why was this man kept as a prisoner for forty years? Why was this man a prisoner of war?

We, white Americans, must end this war. We started it. We have to stop it. We can choose to do so.   We can decide - we must decide - not to let this matter slip away from us again. It will be a matter of choice.

I don't think that there is any clear path. This is not an easy assignment. There is no easy way to end this 400-year long war. But now, like the young man with the sign, we must start "trying" to end the war. We must start taking steps now, halting, difficult, sometimes mistaken, unproved steps, untried - we must take every step we can think of. We must try to end this war. We must try, and we must do it. END this war!

We Must Take This To Heart


Image Credits: 
(1) and (7) - Ted Smith Facebook Page, June 15, 2020
(2) - https://www.pinterest.de/pin/301459768791728855/
(3) - https://youtu.be/sb9_qGOa9Go
(4) - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/insider/nikole-hannah-jones-1619.html
(5) and (6) - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/17/us/delbert-africa-dead.html

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