Moving towards a country where liberty and justice are truly for all
Every country has a narrative that tells the story of how things progressed over time, from the people to the language to the established culture. America has a narrative; actually, America has several narratives. In some communities, that story paints a picture of courageous and brave people who overcame severe challenges to build on new land as a people and create the United States. Other communities tell a history that is filled with a pain that runs deep with sorrow, anguish, and death as families were separated and children were ripped from the arms of loved ones. As we grow in comprehending these parallel historical accounts, there are points of intersection, but the ongoing pain of that reality has not been felt by all. The lapse in understanding the suffering of a community’s story and its people creates a disconnect and makes it hard to realize another person’s account. Understanding each other’s narratives is the step to becoming one nation no longer divided by narratives but united by a greater purpose. The opportunity to be, United States.
To move forward in the fight against racism, we have to stop and embrace the pain of our shared history. The difficulty we have in embracing each other as people is a failure to embrace the pain of our story. That pain is connected to people. To see that pain is to see the people it touches. We must be willing to look back to move forward. History matters, and, if ignored, impacts future success for all of us. America’s narrative for the Black community speaks of over 400 years of oppression, hate, and death. It has impacted our nation and all people in it. Change requires us to identify how history is wrongfully impacting our current story.
“With liberty and justice for all”
Over the years, we have not lived out our national pledge “with liberty and justice for all,” but many have remained silent while systems of racism and inequality remain intact. Silence and a neutral stance are actions that sustain oppressive systems. Author Ibram Kendi writes, “Neutrality is the mask of racism.” But most people don’t consider themselves racist. Not being racist and dismantling racism are not the same. Identifying and accepting what’s wrong with the narrative of America for Black Americans is the first step towards dismantling racism.
Moving forward in fighting racism will require a lot of conversations. The past reveals multiple storylines within the American narrative. As this awareness grows, so can our empathy. Individual understanding that leads to interpersonal learning can create new ways of thinking about racism. Normalizing conversations about racism and race is necessary in homes of non-African American people. We must take our discussion and thoughts outside of our individual communities and engage others who have differing viewpoints and perspectives. This is another antiracist practice.
“Understanding alone does not equal action!” In order to dismantle racism, we are going to have to be together, doing this work together, walking and learning, together.
These actions are essential to change the narrative that excuses systemic racism. Additional initiatives that can be taken include school involvement to educate and mentor youth, voting locally for people who will support racial justice, speaking up in your workplace, supporting racially diverse businesses and organizations, and being a voice for reform in areas like policing and the prison systems. It doesn’t end here. These are the beginning steps of the journey. Ijeoma Oluo states, “Understanding alone does not equal action!” In order to dismantle racism, we are going to have to be together, doing this work together, walking and learning, together. Then and only then will we begin to see the hands of racism loosen its grip on the voice of justice in our land.
Let freedom ring!