Remembering black history: The chapter you and I write

Isaac Martin, Political Contributor

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“There is not a black America and a white America . . . there’s the United States of America.”

– President Barack Obama

Hailed by many as the one who could unite a fractured nation, President Barack Obama took office with an aura of hope, yet the issue of racial tension is worse than it was 10 years ago.

From Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner to Ferguson to Baltimore, the evidence of recent tension remains fresh in our memories. This isn’t to slam President Obama, but political figures aren’t the answer to this issue not now, not ever.

I would like to speak to both my black and white classmates we are the ones who will write this chapter of race relations. What will our children remember and say about this era?

This is a sensitive and delicate subject, one on which I think both major camps have erred. We must approach the topic first and foremost with understanding and love for our brothers and sisters, regardless of their skin colors.

As Dr. King said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” With that in mind, it is quite insulting to write off the entire Black Lives Matter movement.

Though members of BLM have made inflammatory statements and instigated riots, they represent something much, much larger: the hurt that black Americans are feeling today. For a white to insinuate that these protests are simply the product of pure emotionalism, not grounded in reality, is not only patently false, but also insensitively calloused.

Dr. Voddie Baucham can attest to the validity of that last statement. Raised by a single mom in south central L.A., he knew well the sting of discrimination he was pulled over multiple times by police for no apparent reason. Remembering back to his childhood, Baucham recounted:

“On [one] occasion, I was stopped while with my uncle. I remember his visceral response as he looked at me and my cousin (his son). The look in his eye was one of humiliation and anger. He looked at the officer and said, ‘My brother and I didn’t fight in Vietnam so you could treat me like this in front of my son and my nephew.’”

The hurts that our black brothers feel are real. Dismissing their pain does nothing to resolve the situation. Yet, neither is it right to assert that “the system” is entirely to blame for keeping the black man down. Baucham was also the victim of violent crime in his own neighborhood as a boy:

“I remember being robbed at gunpoint on my way home from the store one day. It was one of the most frightening and disheartening events of my life. The fear, helplessness and anger I felt stayed with me for years. And it taught me an unfortunate lesson: the greatest threat to me was other black men.”

While blue-on-black crime is an undeniable reality, to portray it as the biggest problem confronting the African-American community is disingenuous.

2016 was a year filled with racial rancor. What will be different in the next major election or white-on-black shooting? Will widespread unrest, strife and discord again surface? What is the solution? Will it take another Ferguson before we, as a people, wake up and smell the coffee? Will we continue to do as we have for the past eight years, or will we learn from our history?

Men and women like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Hiram Revels and Dr. King were effective we have made tremendous strides as a nation since 1776 because of their labor but their work is not complete. What made them effective, and how can we imitate them?

First, when tragedy strikes, we must not segregate ourselves into this camp or that camp based on our social hurts or skin color. We are one nation under God; when one group suffers, all ought to suffer with it.

To my white brothers and sisters, when a white-on-black shooting occurs, don’t hesitate to reach out and sympathize with our black brothers and sisters. We may not know the facts yet, we may not know their pain, but we can empathize with them during a period of pain.

Second, those in leadership ought to seriously consider instances where discrimination is an issue. Justice must be impartial and equally applied, regardless of skin tone. Since this is such a sensitive topic, we must take special pains to be fair and impartial in all of our judgements.

Finally, we must recognize that we live in a broken world as fallible people. Mistakes will be made; we cannot prevent that with any amount of legislation. However, we can control our reactions. Will we continue the current trend of hate and division, or will we unite in genuine love.

What will our children remember?