I Am the Problem

I’ve been wrapped up in our COVID-19 world. This week has seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of the conspiracy theories. The name-calling has ratched up. The divide has deepened. My soul is unsettled over it.

Somewhere in the middle of the noise, Ahmaud Arbery was killed. 

I didn’t know. I didn’t know he was just out for a morning run. I didn’t know three men grabbed a shotgun and a handgun, and pursued him in their pickup truck to bring justice. I didn’t know what they wanted justice for, and based on their 911 call, it sounds like they didn’t know either.

Black men and women are being killed for doing ordinary, routine activities. 

Not the Beginning

The atrocity and injustice of what happened to Ahmaud Arbery started with his murder, but it didn’t end there. The fact that three men took an ordinary event–one that I do several times every week–and invaded it with guns and an aggressive confrontation, and then claimed self-defense, is reprehensible. The fact that law enforcement agreed with them, is unconscionable. 

If the killing of Ahmaud Arbery was an isolated event, we could grieve for him, bring justice to his killers, and move on. 

But there are many more Ahmauds. Thousands and thousands more. And for every black person who is murdered, there are thousands more who are intimidated, marginalized, and made to fear for their lives.

A few years ago I read Bryan Stevenson’s book, A Just Mercy. Reading story after story of black men and boys who were tragically, systematically, and unjustly incarcerated made my blood boil. I was so mad at the Deep South.

But the South isn’t the problem. I am the problem. 

White Privilege

I have never shot a person of color. I have never intentionally intimidated a black or brown person. I have never called someone a racial slur. And I am the problem. I have read some books about racial injustice. I have black and brown friends. And still, I am the problem.

White privilege is real. 

I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t work hard to achieve it. But I have it. It fell into my lap, and I didn’t even realize it. Periodically I can see it in small ways. The more I try to see though, the more I realize how little I grasp. My privilege blinds me. Until I use my voice–consistently and boldly–I am the problem. Until my actions speak louder than my words, I am the problem. And you are too.

Change

We can, and we must, bring change.

I don’t have a grand plan, or a three-step approach. So I’ll do the one thing I can right now, which is use my voice. Will you join me? Will you share your ideas and suggestions with me on what actions we can take?

This has to stop. No more. We must bring change.

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