Each of us could take steps as we go about our daily lives to advance the eradication of racism and racist behavior in both our American and global society. We only need the will and courage to address it whenever the opportunity arises.
We can also create our own opportunities by taking a stand whenever racism rears its ugly head in our presence.
There are individuals and communities, albeit not enough, that are making the effort. A few recent events are worth noting.
In Dearborn, Michigan, students from high schools all across the area came together for a one-day youth leadership summit on race on the campus of the University of Michigan. Hosted by a coalition of leaders from civil rights and many other community organizations, the goal of the summit was to help students explore how they can work together to improve race relations in their schools and neighborhoods. The summit’s theme, “Handle It! Real Talk About Race,” captures it.
Remember the horrendous hate crime in Mississippi this summer, when two white teens set out one evening to “find and kill a N----“ Well, they succeeded in killing an unsuspecting black man who was walking near a convenience store. There was a time in Mississippi’s history that such an incident would have sparked riots and escalated the tension between blacks and whites.
Instead, Mission Mississippi, an organization that has worked for over 18 years to deal with racial issues, working through churches across the state, held a “Reconciliation Celebration Banquet.” The group’s goal is to change Mississippi one relationship at a time. They recognize that they will not accomplish this goal in a year or 10 years, but are committed to making a difference over time.
Mission Mississippi is making plans to hold 40-50 events across the state, encouraging people to look beyond race and come together to deal with the common challenges they share, such as eradicating poverty, accessing healthcare, and improving education.
From Michigan to Mississippi, and points in between, people are choosing to confront racism in all its form in an effort to make things better.
At Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, staff and students are working to overcome the vestige of mistrust and a troubling racial climate that came about two years ago because students used blackface in their Halloween costumes. The incident created a firestorm, resulting in the University hosting a forum to address the history of blackface. The forum also presented the opportunity to address other sensitive issues such as racial profiling, the decline and stagnation in minority student enrollment, and the lack of social interactions between racial and cultural groups. The University continues to address these issues.
We can choose to become engaged in rooting out this pernicious phenomenon, racism, which seems to have a cancerous grip on so many aspects of society. We can do it wherever we are, whatever our vocation.
American singer and four-time Grammy winner Lenny Kravitz just released a new album, “Black and White America,” which is a soulful critique of race relations in the United States. Kravitz, born to a black mom and white father, witnessed first-hand the evolution of race relations in this country. At 47, he firmly believes that music, his music, can help change this blight on humanity in a positive way.
These are just a few examples of caring and concerned people doing what they can to correct, and improve relations across race and ethnicities. No doubt, there are countless other events and actions taking place, hopefully, everyday. The greatest hope we have is that such acts will become contagious.
Catch it. We need an epidemic. We need a pandemic to wipe out the scourge of racism.