Justice will remain illusive unless we take an honest look at ourselves and how we are complicit in the perpetuation of racist ideas and actions within our lives and institutions. The senseless killing of George Floyd has devastated our community, nation and the world by laying bare the racist realities of People of Color yet again. Many are tired of witnessing the violence and destruction of black lives and other marginalized communities and are seeking a path towards a more just and equitable society.
Ibram X. Kendi offers us a framework in which to begin to dismantle White Supremacy in his book “How to Be an Antiracist.” He challenges us to take a critical approach to historically unchallenged policies and practices responsible for creating our racist reality. Kendi’s definition of a racist is, “One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inactions or expressing a racist idea.” He defines an antiracist as, “One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.”
To claim we are “not racist” is suppressing the reality of racism in our lives and society. Says Kendi, “There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.” What is needed are policies that are intentionally antiracist.
Although, we all have the responsibility to challenge racism in all its forms. We are not all equally able to effectively manifest the necessary changes. The power to do so still lies, for the most part, in the hands of white people. Unfortunately, most white people have been conditioned to not see color. This “color blind” reality is very effective in sheltering white people from the very real racist realities most People of Color are living daily that are not only dehumanizing but support American Imperialism in the U.S. and across the globe.
During these turbulent times, we can be guided by the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This quote taken from thekingcenter.org clearly captures the meaning of the Beloved Community ideal that Dr. King fervently defended during his life and still calls us to aspire towards. “Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.”
This moment calls us to organize across race, class and gender identities in order to mobilize campaigns that address our intersectionality and put forth policies based on creating true equality. Empowerment comes by way of reeducating ourselves about our true histories, reconciling our truths based on our new discoveries, and taking action by forming strong coalitions founded on the desire to create a Beloved Community.
First comes love, then comes equity, then comes peace.
The Resource Center for Nonviolence will continue to offer opportunities for growth and connection during these very difficult yet very meaningful times.