Friday, June 19, 2015

Separate Lives

How can we go on? How can this country go on while police target African Americans for violent treatment and a white shooter desecrates a black church with hatred and blood? How can we go on?

I don't know. And yet we do. Mourners mourn, reporters report, politicians make statements and we just go on.

NO. I want to shout. NO MORE.

The majority of white people in this country, myself included, live their lives relatively or completely isolated from non-whites. Black people. African-Americans. People of color. Real integration should be more than coexisting in a crowd at the stadium or standing in an elevator. What about true friends, close friends, social media friends, trusted coworkers, the best friends of your kids? Your favorite neighbors?

Whether we are racists or not, open-minded or not, we are leading separate lives. No, not everyone. But many.

This is what allows these horrific violations of human rights to go on in this country, because they are happening to people we don't really know.

Right now the country is anxiously awaiting word from the Supreme Court on the constitutional right to marry for same sex couples. It could come quite soon. Attitudes towards gay rights and same sex marriage have been changing dramatically in recent years. From a CNN article (dated June 18) comes this observation:

"It is amazing thing for someone like me, who has been in politics for 35 years now, to see in your own lifetime an issue going from being a strong negative for your party to being a strong positive the way gay marriage has," said Richard Socarides, an openly gay Democrat, who served as a senior adviser to President Clinton. "Democrats supported gay rights and never wanted to talk about it and Republicans opposed gay rights and always wanted to talk about it. It has completely shifted in a very short period of time."

All kinds of people have begun to know gays and lesbians as neighbors, friends, coworkers, the parents of their kid's best friends, members of their church, representing them in local government. And as this has happened, little by little, a light has shone on the needs of gays and lesbians to be treated as full, equal citizens. And also, little by little, those people have ceased to be "other" and become "human". You know, like "us."

It's not a perfect world by any means and the road is long and rocky. But the transformation is significant.

Why don't our African American brothers and sisters have that equal, human place in our society? How can we be so far past the end of segregation and the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and not extend the blessings of humanity to all our citizens? Today I struggle with uncomfortable truths which will not let someone like me off the hook.

But mostly, today I mourn.



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