“The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the near genocide of another race and then the enslavement of another.” – Rev. Jim Wallis, “America’s Original Sin”
Very often, when we’re jarred from our routine by yet another image of a Black man or woman being harassed for appearing to infringe upon someone’s whiteness or literally having the life taken from them at the hands of law enforcement or someone who has taken it upon themselves to act as judge, jury and executioner, many will ask something to the effect of “why does this keep happening?”
In short, these things persist because the fear, oppression and destruction of Black bodies is rooted in the history of this country…the sin of racism is hard-coded into the DNA of the unspoken values of the American flag. It’s why racism doesn’t go away by not talking about it. For many of us, due to various levels of privilege, we can move into some level of existence that allows navigation of these murky waters with a reasonable level of ease and safety, but almost on cue, we are reminded that we’re simply a traffic stop away from tragedy.
This is why the work of racial reconciliation in this country leads through the ugly depths of the sin of racism. If it is indeed true that we cannot fix what we will not face, then our work of repentance must include an honest accounting of what has been part of the fiber of this country since it began. Further, if anyone would call themselves a patriot, it is their patriotic duty to look their beloved square in the eye, call out the ugliness in their character and call them up from the darkness into the light that is available to us all.
If we desire to espouse the bright values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, we must also face the ugliness that those values sit upon.
Ahmaud, Breonna, George and far too many others, we weep for you.
To this country we say, “America, America, this is you.”