As I watch “breaking news” on various television channels, I am troubled but not surprised by what I see. After all, by age 90, I have seen, heard, witnessed, and fallen victim to racist treatment in its various forms and iterations in America, dating as far back as my early childhood days in Mississippi.
I am troubled by what I have not seen nor heard from white political, religious and business leadership. I have not heard their outrage regarding the treatment of their fellow citizens. Where are their voices demanding change to rectify this serious issue?
Where is the expression of concern and outrage among white City Council leaderships, mayors, county executives, governors, legislators, congressional representatives, senators, attorneys general, the U.S. Attorney General, religious leaders and business leaders and the president of the United States. Why is there such loud silence?
Is white America waiting for an African-American voice like that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to quell the violence and call for healing? I do not believe that this will happen. These times do not call for a Black savior. Instead, it is up to white-American leadership to step up to the challenge!
As a nation, we have a great deal on our plate: We are in the midst of two very destructive viruses, COVID-19 and RACISM-2020. Both require national leadership.
The demonstrators of today are urgently in need of leadership and training. That is a critical missing piece of the puzzle. The MLK-led marches were well coordinated with nonviolence theory infused throughout. Its members, for the most part, knew who the participants were. Thus, they were aware of “outsiders” who might have infiltrated the march and could keep a watchful eye. Besides, they knew that they were testing their constitutional rights to demonstrate at a time when there were very few cameras to reveal evidence of maltreatment. Thanks to the invention of the lens, we saw a few events. Lynchings went unrecorded.
Today’s demonstrators include anarchists, arsonists, white supremacists and others whose aims are not the same as “peaceful, anti-discrimination demonstrators.”
Since I worry that we might once again witness events such as those that happened 50 years ago at Kent State University and Jackson State University, my sincere hope is that we engage our political and community leaders to begin planning and organizing peaceful demonstrations for justice.
Such planning might include:
- Convening public gatherings to discuss this urgent need to plan and organize peaceful demonstrations for justice.
- Defining and agreeing on demonstration guidelines.
- Issuing identification for demonstrators to wear.
- Having a policing authority protect the demonstrators.
- Surrounding the demonstrators’ perimeter with policemen on bikes for the demonstrators’ protection (this would not be a parade, therefore, no sidewalk/sideline observers).
I continue to believe in America, my country, despite all that I have witnessed and continue to witness during the extent of these two viruses.
My sincerest hope is that these ideas can be acted on.