Scenes of violence flash across the screen. Burning police cars, neighborhood shops looted and ablaze while business owners are beaten defending what they have built. What ever happened to bringing peace through peaceful demonstration? Have we completely forgotten the lessons and example of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King?
Because it is my nature to believe in the goodness of man. I will always hold in my heart that the majority of the people protesting are peaceful. They are rightfully angry and scared, and they want change, but they are peaceful. These are the people whom I whole heartedly support. They are our brothers and sisters and as Dr. King said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we‘re in the same boat now.” Truly our only way to progress forward is to row together.
I am saddened by the place we find ourselves. White Americans are afraid of Black Americans. Black Americans are afraid of White Americans. Fear outweighing trust. I read a story yesterday of a black man who does not feel comfortable walking through his neighborhood unless he has his daughter with him. With his daughter and their dog, he is seen as a Dad and not a threat. A white man is afraid to walk through a black neighborhood. It’s seen as a dangerous no-go zone for him.
There is a “black neighborhood” very near the neighborhood where I have lived for the past twenty years. I do not go there and shamefully I know no one who lives there. Why is that? It seems this self-segregation has prevented our understanding of others and coming together as a people. Would I be welcome in the Black church around the corner? I don’t know, maybe I should ask.
The problem as I see it, is we don’t know each other. As a result, there is a deep-seated distrust between black and white. The all too familiar stereotypes fill our minds like a moat and close them in as a castle gate. As a white man if I see a group of black youths walking towards me, I immediately am on my guard, distrustful. I don’t like that I feel this way. I have no doubt that they have similar feelings about me. It does not come from hatred it comes from my own ignorance. I have a very strong desire to change this distorted view and come from a place of understanding and compassion.
Hatred, anger, fear, and jealousy are born from ignorance. To defeat this ignorance, we must find ways to know one another. It is difficult to hate someone when you work side by side to produce something good and beautiful. It is difficult to hate someone when you celebrate their joys, their family, and their life. It is difficult to hate someone when you share in their loss and cry with them. It is difficult to hate someone when you cook a glorious meal together to share it with your families. Through coming together and sharing our dreams for our children and vision for a better world we will come to know each other as people not as a color.