America Is Great Because of Black People

Life today is so completely overwhelming. First the coronavirus completely turns life upside down. Then, the senseless, racially motivated murders of Ahmaud Arbrey and George Floyd. Protests have been popping up everywhere this past week. On social media, you can go down the rabbit hole of people shouting for justice on one side, then shouting about the needless destruction of property and injuring other people on the other. I just sit back, and bury my head in my hands.

I would like to think that this reaction is more from sensory overload than cowardice. I’ve had several White friends message me, saying that they stand in solidarity with me and their heart goes out to both me and my boys. I appreciate it, but I’m not sure what to say in response but the generic ‘thanks’. I mean, I still have to navigate work and their day-to-day care. I still go to bed each night, with several unchecked items left on my daily ‘to do’ list. And it is sad to say, but none of this surprises me. Cops have been angry, over-militarized racists since the beginning of time. And the Rodney King incident back in showed us that the police aren’t going to change just because people are filming them.

My daily routine involves a heavy dependence on tablets, TV and music. This morning, after watching Aladdin (the original animated one today), the end credits featured a different version of the theme song, “A Whole New World”, then what played during the film. The version played during the end credits was performed as a duet by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle (two African-Americans) — and is what they played on the radio back in the day. Disney knew what they were doing. If you want a formula for an adult contemporary love song, then smooth vocals from an African-American (or someone who sings like an African-American) is a good ingredient to have.

But in all honesty, there is no genre of ‘American music’ that wasn’t influenced by either Africans or their descendants. Even country music; which, so beloved to rednecks and hillbillies, owes it’s instrumentation and musical structure to the formerly enslaved Africans. Even so, as recently as last year, Lil Nas had a hard time getting recognition from Nashville as a country and western artist.

So even though America owes an enormous debt to African-Americans, American society continues to marginalize the African-Americans!

So I ask my fellow non-Black Americans – Why do you hate us so much? Why does our very presence irk you so much? I mean how many Americans share this sentiment:

What’s interesting about this sentiment is that the US has issued reparations before; and you can definitely argue that if they were offered 150, 100 or even 50 years ago (to Black Americans), the cost would be much less. But yet we can’t even begin to seriously entertain this notion.

I realize that there are no easy answers here. That centuries of inequality cannot just be taken down overnight. But I want something to change….for the sake of my boys. Something has to change. 🙁

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.