I am watching, once again, how in the midst of the continuing deaths of black men at the hands of police officers, we are all scrambling — and I do mean scrambling — to “address” racism.
We want to defund the police, change names of military bases, remove Confederate flags and statues, have debates, pound our fists, shout, enact new legislation, all in the name of ending racism — the list goes on, but does not get to the root of the problem. It is only symbols. The headlines incite us to act, because, I am told, silence is part of the problem. So we get riled up — until something else happens to draw us to the next big issue.
I want more than anything for racism to go away, but I know it won’t. To end racism means going deep into the core of its roots, which means looking at ourselves in the mirror and recognize and accept that it is endemic to who and what we are. It has existed for so long because no one has gone to that inner core to say “we must overcome ourselves.” I have no answer for how we do this, but I’d love to see this addressed in some capacity by minds greater than mine.
I have one idea: instead of using our energies in attacking the symbols, let’s do more: instead of confronting someone over a Confederate flag go out and talk to a young person who is wavering on whether or not to vote — help get people out there to vote. Will this end racism? No, but with these votes we can elect people to places of power whose platforms speak to the core of racism. It would be a seismic shift, but this calls for nothing less.
We have sung these songs before, we have marched before, we have had confrontations before. These things may get us a few years of feeling good about having done something, but they will not hold forever — this much we have learned. Demand a platform from our elected officials that does more than symbolically address racism (legislation is nothing more than symbolic, so demand more). Hold them accountable for it. Listen to what they have to say, and ask yourselves if what we are hearing rings true. If not, ask for more. But it all starts with our vote. It really does matter. Just vote!