As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. -Nelson Mandela
Complacency is easy…and the foe of spiritual growth. -Aiden Wilson Tozer
After last week, are you asking yourself, “What now?” Have you suggested to yourself and others that you need to keep it up? Maybe you’ve caught yourself thinking some of the following: Wouldn’t it be nice it all those protestors from last Saturday, called it a day and went home? I wish the tension between police and Black people and white advocates would dissipate? If only we didn’t turn on the news and see things that made us feel anything from grief to anger to despair? Can’t we just go back to “the way things were?”
Personally, I hope not.
It’s also the start of week 13 of changing our lives (hopefully) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We want to get back to restaurants, churches, music venues, theaters, and sporting events. I was out taking care of a few errands this week. It was a hot day. Wearing my mask, trying to get it situated, I was thinking about what this will be like when we return to school and other events, all while wearing masks. I felt tired just looking ahead. Are you tired?
It’s like 1918 and 1968 have converged in 2020.
It’s been 65 years since Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin refused to give up their seats to white men in Montgomery, Alabama. Sixty five years. That’s a whole lifetime and yet, substantive inequities remain. Many of our citizens are treated badly and even killed because of the color of their skin. Our racial pandemic rages on.
Are you uncomfortable about that?
In many areas of our country—particularly rural ones and the South—the virus spread is accelerating. Spain, whose citizens were placed on very strict lock down March 14, now has zero COVID-related deaths per day and they are continuing lock down for another month. Another month of lock down with zero deaths. Why? Because the goal is to rid the entire country of the virus altogether. Yet, we in America, are clamoring to get loose and minimizing the threat of the virus.
Are you uncomfortable about that?
So what now?
Keep it up. Actively keep talking about the racial inequalities that still exist 65 years after the push for civil rights for all Americans. Continue to raise your own consciousness about this issue. Keep wearing your mask for the COVID pandemic—but take off your blinders about the racial pandemic.
Keep wearing your mask for the COVID pandemic—but take off your blinders about the racial pandemic.
1918 and now
Gratefully, in 2020, we have infinitely better communication and we learned of the international threat of the virus relatively quickly. We were watching closely as the first person was affected here in the US. Because of widespread containment efforts, thus far, we have not come close to the number of lives lost in 1918-1919. There were roughly 675,000 Americans who died and it was estimated that 1/3 of the world’s population was infected with over 500 million deaths total. Did you know that? I didn’t. Congratulations, global family, for containing this in 2020!
But the experts are clear: we cannot stop our efforts. We must KEEP IT UP or the contagion will gain traction. In fact, it is happening here in our country. I know, I know, I know. I’m beyond ready to get on a plane, eat at a wonderful restaurant, not wear a mask, gather with people, and hug my friends. But we had our own family scare this week as one of my daughters got word that she had been possibly exposed—after I almost dropped my own vigilance and sipped a drink after her. I didn’t and she is COVID-free, but we all slipped closer to complacency.
1968 and now
Racism in this country (and arguably elsewhere around the globe), has experienced this complacency on a much greater scale. It happens because we don’t like to look at conflict, unrest, or ugliness. It happens because our white privilege is ingrained in our minds and culture. Let me take responsibility here: MY WHITE PRIVILEGE affects what I see. I am dedicated to change with my commitment to KEEP IT UP by reading, supporting, listening, and being much more intentional about my actions in the service of being anti-racist.
In 1968, the protests were largely comprised of Black people here in America. Not all, but the vast majority. I wanted to place a photo here but am concerned about copyright laws so if you want to see for yourself, just scroll through the images on a google search of 1968 civil rights protests. From what I’ve seen, I think we are doing a better job in 2020, as humans helping humans by having a collection of racially diverse protesters.
There were also counter demonstrations in the 1960s with signs saying “white people have civil rights too” – well, duh. I’m sorry, but for me, this is akin to the “all lives matter” that we mentioned in last week’s blog. It is important to emphasize again that until Black lives matter, we have missed the goal of all lives matter. We need to KEEP IT UP in our efforts to help those who are hurting due to injustice.
Progress but we need more
Despite all the bad news on TV, social media, and other streaming sources, there has also been some progress. Many cities have had ongoing marches and demonstrations at which there has been peace, dialogue, singing, and support. There have been more municipalities in which police have joined protesters. Many mayors, police chiefs, governors, and other leaders are out talking to Black leaders and citizens. AND we need to KEEP IT UP until substantial reforms are in place.
All of us need to KEEP IT UP until we have created a cultural shift. Fifty-plus years is far too long for our brothers and sisters to suffer because we are blind. And no, that is not the “color-blindness” that some people claim as evidence of lack of racism–color is real and its diversity is beautiful.We cannot afford to become complacent again. We must continue to be vigilant in our attempts to fight the COVID pandemic and the racial pandemic. Click To Tweet
hope for clarity in 2020
Remember when we were all blissfully looking to 2020 for a more clear vision—a 2020 vision? Well, be careful what you wish for—it’s here. Crystal clear. Uncomfortably clear. It’s crystal clear what we need to do in our messy lives and our messy world: KEEP IT UP! Keep convincing yourself that in the long run, it is worth it to be uncomfortable now.
Our MessyMarvelous picks this week:
This Ted Talk (2017 at Colorado State University) by Dr. Mark Benn, “What’s in YOUR file?” on bias and racism, is excellent and is absolutely relevant today: “A bigot is a bigot is a bigot.” He also quotes feminist activist, Anne Wilson Schaef in her book, Women’s Reality, that prejudice is like air pollution—stinky air no longer seems stinky after a while, it just becomes the way the air smells.
Layla Saad, Me and White Supremacy: she has a 28 day workbook (also available on audio) intended to guide you on a deep dive into your own belief system around race. I wrote this down from her introductory chapter, “You will need love for this journey. When truth-telling gets really hard, you will need something more powerful than pain and shame to keep you going.” She also discusses why she used “supremacy” and didn’t soften it for her readers. Quite excellent if you’re still willing to be uncomfortable this week.
Finally, this Instagram video of Sonya Renee Taylor and her discussion about what white people are missing in their dialogues about Black people—that is, white people need to be talking about white people and how we created this inequity via colonialism—and suggests this is the root of supremacy. She nails it. Uncomfortably so.
Keep growing, Marvelous Readers,
Rhea A. Merck, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist, persistent woman, mother of 2 amazing young women, writer, teacher, life-long learner, curious & creative human, lover of life, passionate about making life better every day…
visit my outdated website at ramphd.com or email me at [email protected]