Photograph of the Civil Rights March on Washington, 8/28/1963, c/o The U.S. National Archives
The richness of last night's meal, enjoyed over a leisurely dinner with friends, seemed like a mistake less than hour after I arrived home. It congealed in my stomach, threatening to resurface as I caught up on my Twitter stream.
"Regardless of what the law says, one thing is true: If George Zimmerman had just stayed in his car, Trayvon Martin would be alive."
George Zimmerman was acquitted? Wave after wave of sickness, shame and anger washed over me. Also, trailing not too far behind was the heartbreaking fact that I wasn't surprised in the least. Our track record is atrocious. Actual policemen seem to be routinely acquitted of shooting unarmed African Americans; the verdict in Florida is just another indictment against all of us for not DOING something.
Yes, DO SOMETHING. "Thinking good thoughts" or feeling bad or even ranting to your Twitter choir does nothing to abate the actual problem. Yes, you need to have your personal house in order. If you're white, you need to recognize that, no matter how downtrodden your life may seem, you are afforded certain privileges and allowances that folks of different races are not. Yes, I'm sure you can think of a counter argument. Just stop. You are. I am. Now do something about it. Speak up. Talk to people outside of your circle. Change won't happen when we just sit around wringing our hands with folks who feel the same way. Observe the world around you. Start with the place where you work. When you see a wrong being done, say and do something. Don't just assume someone else is doing something about it.
Get uncomfortable. I can tell you from experience that rocking the boat will lead some folks to lash out. Learn to embrace it. Social change isn't swift, but it must be fought for...over and over and over because those who preach, teach or even just allow hate continue to indoctrinate new generations. Some things are worth fighting for.
I'm writing this as much for me as for you. We all need to open our mouths, take those steps, get our hands dirty. I know where I can start. Do you?