Ending Racism by Healing Wounds
Never before in the history of racial relations in this country have we been closer to an opportunity for a healing of all wounds. The great strides towards a true equality we made during the 1960’s were remarkable it is true, but they did not put the issue of racism completely to rest. Physical segregation was, for the most part, ended. Blacks were allowed to sit where they were not allowed to sit before, eat where they could not eat before, and many opportunities that were denied were opened before them. All this is true. It is irrefutable. And if this was the only expression of racism, then we would have a more perfect union, but alas there are many manifestations of intolerance.
We live in a country where shadow truths control much of what we are and what we do: those truths that lay just beyond or beneath our consciousness. They are the felt but unspoken feelings that we, as a polite society cannot voice. If we are white the shadow truth is that a group of young black men frightens us. If we are black the shadow truth is that we are angry still for the accumulated history of injustice and the everyday slights suffered at the hands of whites.
If we are old we fear any group of young men that approaches. If we are Hispanic we silently resent that the sweat of our brow is not as valuable, some how, as the sweat of whites. If we are Native Americans we resent the arrogance of a culture that attempts to destroy our culture by assigning us to specified geographic locations, ignores our treaties, and rapes the earth we venerate. Each and every race that inhabits this country has its own, private shadow truths that it buries deeply and nurtures bitterly.
Just as we faced the injustices of racial inequality and segregation during the Civil Rights Movement, we must now address those unspoken but deafeningly loud cries of fear, anguish, and anger that now rot the fiber of our society. We are at a cross road. We have liberal Democrats using race as a campaign tactic. We have a media that thrives on the divisiveness of these racial attacks and the sensational sound bites that they can echo every hour on the hour. We have republican leaders who forget that we are guaranteed the choice of our religious affiliations and the right of free speech. The specter of racism has again risen up from its shallow grave to divide the nation.
And the shadow truth is that it will always be with us because we don’t want it to go away. We want the difference. We need the difference. We are so immersed in the need for labels, the need for the “us-or-them” mentality that we will never unite the races, the genders, or the ideologies of humanity. We pay lip service to high soaring concepts of equality, freedom, and justice, but below the surface we only care about we individually fit in to the greater picture. We do not embrace the collectivism of Engels and Marx, nor the Republicanism of Adams and Jefferson. The Constitution is a document that is only true as it speaks to me. The Declaration of Independence frees only me.
I hold these shadow truths to be self-evident, that I am created the most equal, that I am endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Until we can, or rather, if we can, illuminate the shadow truths through open, honest discourse we will never be the country that we aspire to be. We will just be a poor reflection of the ideals we had held.