Equally Human

Toni Morrison said about racism in 1993: “White people have a very, very serious problem and they should start thinking about what they can do about it. Take me out of it.”

White people started systemic racism violently, we need to end it peacefully.

Black voices must be elevated so white people can better understand the Black American experience, so they know what to watch for in themselves and others, so they can teach their children better and re-think their judgments.

Yet it appears that not all white people are ready to listen. That’s why I’m here — I come as an intermediary to help white people learn how to love Black people.

11 years ago I married the love of my life, who happens to be a Black man. We have three mixed-race children.

When I look at our children, I know that Black people and white people are meant to love each other in all ways — romantically, platonically, neighborly, and spiritually.

This country will only heal through unconditional love and uncomfortable truth-telling.

TRUTH: All white Americans know, on a deep level, that we owe African Americans.

This makes some of us nervous. We’re indebted and intimidated. With nerves, comes fear. With fear, comes insecurity. With insecurity, comes racism.

Racism is not only individual acts of meanness such as those in recent months that have fueled Black Lives Matter: a shot in the back while jogging (Ahmaud Arbery), 8 bullets to the body for nothing (Brionna Taylor), a threatening call to the police for no good reason (Christian Cooper), a knee on the neck until he couldn’t breathe (George Floyd).

No, racism is not limited to humans bullying humans. Racism is also passive aggressive. Racism is in the system past and present: laws that stopped people of color from buying property in certain neighborhoods or attending certain schools or marrying certain people; the judges who keep Black men in prison for selling marijuana 25 years ago while letting predominantly white men sell it legally in a storefront; the long voting lines and underfunded schools in predominantly Black areas; the elite companies where Black people are often excluded even when they’re hired, where they’re the first people laid off when the budgets get slashed.

Listen, if you still don’t understand racism, you are part of the problem.

White people have privileges that Black people don’t get.

We can’t give their ancestor’s freedom back
We can’t return the years they have lost in prison
Or the family members they have lost to hate crimes
We can’t cut the chains that bind us to each other.

We’re indebted
We owe them
Without expecting anything in return
We owe them
Our ears
Our trust
Our votes
Our support.

I promise you
That people—Black, brown, yellow, pink, white—are easy to love
When you aren’t busy with fear and guilt.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest
Let me tell you the truth
About my family.

(I have taken the liberty of omitting the words, in-law,
Because we are also family out of law
Our blood runs together in the next generation.)

My Black Father
Is equally
As My White Father.

My Black Brother
Is equally
As My White Brother.

My Black Sister
Is equally
As My White Sister.

My Black Niece
Is equally
As My White Nephew.

My Black Mother
Is equally
As My White Mother.

My Black Husband
Is equally
As My White Self.

When you’re ready, go to the people of color. Go to their businesses, read their books, listen to their podcasts. Go to BlackLivesMatter.com. Sign a petition, follow their social accounts, read about the programs, donate to the cause, learn about the people whose memory we fight for. Cry. 

James & Lucy getting married

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