Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Jesus challenged the power structure and revealed the hypocrisy of religious authorities. He championed the powerless, always in a posture of humility. Today countless folks are taking the same knee.
The national and international protests to brutality and racism against the African-American community are sustained outcries. It’s heartening to see non-Blacks increase the volume of their support, presence and activism.
Many realize the “white privilege” by which they have lived their lives; the assumption of safety, of not living with constant fear of arrest, harassment or undue suspicion, of not having constantly to prove themselves worthy of civil treatment. Many have never needed to teach their children to be guarded because one move misinterpreted by the police can get them arrested or killed. Black parents often fear their children might draw attention - hairstyles, clothes, or just by being high spirited or mouthy as all teenagers can be - and land themselves in serious trouble with lifelong consequences.
It’s a weary walk, generations old, but the long trudge is different this time. Younger generations that grew up with diversity see only common humanity, not skin color. The young are leading the way. Could we possibly be on the hallelujah trail?
Pandemic isolation has put us all on a timeout of self-reflection.
Resistance against and defensiveness to the plight of 13% of all Americans is, for too many, ingrained and built on false assumptions. How often have you heard:
“They wouldn’t be in prison if they didn’t do anything wrong.”
Statistics show African-Americans are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. Blacks make up 13% of the American population, but represent 37% of male prisoners. Black women are twice as likely to be incarcerated compared to white women.
Are we to believe the criminal element is fiercer in people of color? Clearly, bias is a major factor in case dispositions.
Or how about “They need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
When anyone gets funneled into the prison system, let alone the outsized number of African-Americans, there are crippling costs. Bail, lawyers, the loss of a family wage earner, a low possibility of future jobs. African-Americans face twice the negative impact of a criminal record when applying for work. Families torn apart result in long-term dysfunction and economic disadvantages.
Some say, “They’re always complaining” followed by “what about me and (fill in the blank).” Listen to the legitimate cries for equality, parity and fair treatment. Don’t shoot us in the back. Don’t brutalize us. Please, I can’t breathe.
When everyday folks are armed with cameras, seeing is believing. The powerful must peacefully protest with determination and humility for the voiceless. It’s what taking a knee was all about.
Email Suzette Martinez Standring at firstname.lastname@example.org.