In time, we may look back on this year, 2020, with 20/20 vision, and see clearly the messages that were brought before us.
Maybe not. Vision is facilitated with our eyes, above my field of study, the maxillofacial region. The vision that we will need comes from below my field, somewhere in the heart/soul.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused us to step back and analyze how we go about our daily activities. It has caused us to be a bit more selfless, with respect to the elderly and infirm among us, to protect them.
While some have been resistant to the changes that have been imposed upon us, the vast majority have been compliant. We have learned to guard our bodies and protect others if we should happen to be asymptomatic carriers.
Recently, however, a more virulent disease has been again exposed; a disease of the heart/soul. There is a long-term, systemic disease in our midst, whose chronic symptoms occasionally become acute, exposed and very, very painful.
The senseless death of an unarmed African American man, George Floyd, at the hands (knee) of an armed officer, with other armed officers in attendance, is a stark reminder of what appears to be an incurable disease: racism.
As a white man, I won’t say I can even begin to understand what the black man has endured in this country. Have things gotten better? Perhaps. Is there an undercurrent of racism? Absolutely.
We have seen it over and over and over again. I grew up in the segregated South, in a society that was overtly racist. The propagation of racism continues to this day, unfortunately. I am in complete agreement with our Crystal River mayor, Joe Meek, who said in open forum on Tuesday night a couple of weeks ago that there is no person, ideology, political party or the like that will solve this problem.
Like CK Chesterton said, “The problem is me.” It is a change of heart of the individual that must take place; a 20/20-vision of our heart, where the change must begin.
When the seeds of racism are planted early in one’s life, it is often difficult to see the vine which grew and entwined itself throughout our adult being, and even more difficult to remove all vestiges of this poisonous plant. I still struggle with this. But talk is cheap. We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words.
My question is, what can I do, to improve my relations with those that look different than me? There are several things: 1) identify and frequent places of business that are minority owned. You will be creating new relationships as well as supporting business owners who have faced additional obstacles to succeed; 2) invite people of color to social events, dinner, activities, etc., where social engagement takes place. People are people, regardless of skin color; 3) attend open forums, like that which occurred two weeks ago in Inverness, and last week in Lecanto, where many people with dissimilar looks, backgrounds and socioeconomic status can come together and openly discuss this recurrent disease, and possibly formulate solutions; 4) don’t stand silent when you witness racial slurs, jokes, intimidation or blatant discrimination. Speak up. “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer); 5) don’t buy into the media’s stereotypes. Remember, TV and movies are entertainment, not reality; 6) expand your social media by following some influencers of color with which you share a hobby or interest.
I know there are still good people reading this that just don’t get it. “Why are all those black people still so angry? Look at all the advances African Americans have made!”
If you are one of those people who just doesn’t see what all the fuss is about, I challenge you to do some research. Read a book. Google it! Look at different resources for information. Put some time into it, like you would if you were researching your next car, kitchen appliance or flatscreen TV.
Epidemiologists are telling us that we may never be completely free of the coronavirus, either in its present state, or mutated form. The civil rights movement affected a change in this country, and many things are better than they used to be. But racism has mutated to a more silent, virulent form.
If you are white, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. If racism cannot be abolished, then maybe it can be controlled. It will begin not by talking about it, but by taking positive action, one interaction at a time.