- On June 1, 2020
- 5 Comments
Here are my words from an article I was asked to write about what is going on right now in the world. Here are my words.
Many Americans have become numb to hate, poverty, racism, bullying, police brutality and hunger.
As I watched the video of the Minneapolis policeman put 200 pounds of pressure on the neck of George Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the asphalt street, begging for his life, I had to turn it off.
I am angry, disappointed and confused. More than 50 years earlier, I had the same sick feeling in my stomach as a child in the 1960s watching TV and seeing in person how dangerous the civil rights movement was, reading about the lynchings, police brutality, assassinations, the vicious dogs and racist people attacking peaceful demonstrators, and the hopelessness in the eyes of so many people – including my own at times.
Then in 1974, I came to Morehouse College and met and listened to some of the great civil rights leaders of our time. I met some fellow young bright minds that felt we could change the world. Morehouse instilled in us we are change agents.
My first peaceful public protest was in Atlanta. My generation marched nonviolently protesting some of the same issues – racism, persistent poverty, community-based crime, police brutality – in the 1970s and early 1980s. I now believe we failed.
Racism is stronger than ever; poverty is high; a small percentage of bad cops still brutalize and kill. Hate spreads daily and is now acceptable. Bullies are in positions of power and are stronger than ever.
I understand and agree with the frustration of the masses and the call for peaceful protest. I recall the words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written 57 years ago in response to people who said the civil rights movement was going too fast:
“For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied…
“But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society;
“When you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tip-toe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” – then you understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”
I don’t agree with the violence and looting by a small number of people who seem to have motives opposite of the goals of the peaceful protesters.
I am asking myself what can I, and the organizations I belong to, do now to help change America for the better? The election of a Black president showed me that all things are possible. Now I must believe it is possible to reduce the impact of racism and poverty, provide opportunities, education and skill training that creates jobs and hope for those that feel despised, forgotten, and ignored by our country.
Racism, poverty, community-based crime, police brutality results in loss of hope that can create trauma in people’s lives. I know first-hand what it is like to survive trauma.
I live with the trauma of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Trauma is real and impacts our lives forever. But we CAN make a difference. It’s not too late. We need to listen to the people who are crying out. Pain and hopelessness are real.
Sometimes I have to remind myself, I don’t have to keep feeling like Dr King said in the letter from the Birmingham Jail.
As Morehouse College’s own Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III said Sunday in an online sermon, we need a moral revival in our country. I am committed to working harder to help create a better Atlanta, state of Georgia, America and the world.