America, Put Down Your Weapons. Your Words are Lethal.

The black community has been drowning in the noise created by white people for a very long time. But right now, the black community deserves to have the mic and the platform. The black community is entitled to their rage, and we need to be in their audience listening, because white people have stolen their stories from them before. Remember when Colin Kaepernick took his knee? That was a black community story, and it was completely highjacked, ransacked, and looted by white people. The nation took a black story and made it white. We made it American. We made it about the military. We made it about respect. We made it about everything but a black football player who took a stand with his knee to serve his black community. White people stole the Colin Kaepernick story. Just like white people are now stealing the George Floyd story. We are making it about politics. We are making it about who we want in office come November. We are making it about crime. We are making it about rioting and looting. We are making it about Blue Lives Matter. And, All Lives Matter. And, about protestors convening without COVID-19 masks. We are once again turning a black story, white.


America feels like the land of the lost. We’ve become a wayward, hopeless mess of people. We’ve lost our way because we have forgotten our sense of place, and we’ve lost the concept of “home.” Until we put down our weapons of mass destruction, our words, and understand the true weight they carry, we will remain hopelessly and permanently, lost.

Americans have a “It’s my way, or the highway” mentality.

“What is home? My favorite definition is a safe place, a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.”

Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life

I think what Ms. Hunt is saying there is “home” is just an imaginary word, and an imaginary place, unless everyone feels safe and supported in it. America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave” feels like fake news. I’m sure I’m not alone here in this sentiment, but America doesn’t feel much like home these days. Our citizens have been stumbling around, wayward, and hopelessly lost. Instead of trying to find answers that live within ourselves, we’ve taken a liking to force-feeding our own ideals down each other’s throats. That concept doesn’t work well at the dinner table, and it certainly doesn’t bode well on Facebook and Twitter. But, we do it anyway, and everyone is left feeling out of place.

One thing is clear though, our black brothers and sisters seem to be feeling much less “at home” than the rest of us. And, that sense of hopelessness has turned to pure, unadulterated rage. But despite our nation being in an elevated crisis surrounding racial injustices, Americans continue yielding words against each other like weapons, because we don’t agree with each other about anything. And, when we all do finally agree on something, like the senseless death of a black man at the hands of a police officer, perhaps our own noise about everything else is drowning out the people who really need to be heard right now.

The black community has been drowning in the noise created by white people for a very long time. But right now, the black community deserves to have the mic and the platform. The black community is entitled to their rage, and we need to be in their audience listening, because white people have stolen their stories from them before. Remember when Colin Kaepernick took his knee? That was a black community story, and it was completely highjacked, ransacked, and looted by white people. The nation took a black story and made it white. We made it American. We made it about the military. We made it about respect. We made it about everything but a black football player who took a stand with his knee to serve his black community. White people stole the Colin Kaepernick story. Just like white people are now stealing the George Floyd story. We are making it about politics. We are making it about who we want in office come November. We are making it about crime. We are making it about rioting and looting. We are making it about Blue Lives Matter. And, All Lives Matter. And, about protestors convening without COVID-19 masks. We are once again turning a black story, white.

Maybe we are not supposed to be enraged for the black community this time? Perhaps the black community doesn’t need white people fighting this, their biggest of battles -highjacking their biggest headline – yet again? Perhaps, the black community doesn’t need anything from us. Or, perhaps they only need us to silently rally alongside them, listen, support their efforts, pay patronage to their businesses, lend a helping hand to clean-up their streets, hear their hopes, and their dreams, and watch as they do the lion’s share of the work that’s in front of them? We wouldn’t know, because likely we aren’t asking our black communities how they want the rest of us to behave, this time or any other time in the past. Our incessant need to jump in, each and every time, is by very definition white supremacy. We are telling our black brothers and sisters that they are incapable of getting their arms wrapped around this thing.

Unless we know for sure, we probably shouldn’t be raising our voices louder. Perhaps the black community’s disappointments and triumphs are getting lost in all the white noise? Perhaps, what the black community really needs us to do is shut up and listen. If you tune out all the white noise, the black community sure seems resolute. If we really listen, we can begin to hear trumpets of hope and resolve coming from the black community’s own leaders.

She stopped me in my tracks with her resolve.

And let’s face it. White people have no place trying to fix what’s wrong until we take a big, long look at ourselves in the mirror. We’ve got our own work to do. How can we be equipped to help stop the spread of hate aimed at our black communities when we can’t stop spreading hate amongst the rest of us?

We fling hateful words at each other, carelessly and callously, and that has become mainstay and socially acceptable, especially on social media. When did it become okay to bully and berate each other because political ideals from one side of politics doesn’t agree with the other?

Our children are listening. If we continue to bully and berate each other, our children are going to learn how to bully and berate. And they take that normality back to their schools. And guess what they grow-up to be? Adults that bully and berate. And, sometimes, those bullies wear police uniforms.

Me

How are white Americans equipped to help take on racial inequities, injustices, and help calm the discord in our streets when we haven’t confronted the hate harboring in our hearts for each other? We are all consumed by our own rage, and we can’t change or fix anything without first coming to that understanding.

Folks, it’s June in a presidential election year. If you haven’t changed anyone’s mind yet by force-feeding others with your political ideals, you probably ain’t gonna.

America, put down your weapons! Your words are lethal.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” -Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird”

Once we climb inside of someone’s skin, whether he or she be black, white, or any color, of any political affiliation, or religion, etc., and walk around in that skin..maybe we can begin to understand this:

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

That quote changes this way of thought:

“Another black man was senselessly killed; American black communities enraged.”

To this way of thought:

“Another man was senselessly killed, American communities enraged.”

And then one day we can aspire to have this:

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird