This isn't just a black problem.
This isn't just a cop problem.
This is a systemic, societal, generational problem. While racial violence may not be happening out in the open within our county lines, at a certain point silence is betrayal. Silence is complicit.
Our country has deep, un-healed wounds that come from the misconception that black equals dangerous, or black equals scapegoat.
While there's been an uptick in racial violence within the last few weeks, we know it isn't new. We're just now living in a world with smart phones and social media at the ready to capture it all. Right now it seems like there's a new national headline of racial violence almost daily. And it's all horrific and heart-wrenching.
Many people choose not to say anything, not to do anything because, after all, "it's not happening here" and "it's not really effecting me."
The exhaustion and outrage felt by many, though, was captured by Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, in a recent Washington Post column.
"Another black person killed. Another heartbreaking death caught on video…Another grieving family. Another hashtag. It's no wonder we can't breathe," he wrote. "This cascade of recent cases…has sharpened the focus of all Americans on two inescapable realities: Our society and its institutions place a perilously low value on black lives, and it's inherently dangerous to be black in America."
Society has demonized, and politicized, the concept of "other" and black Americans are carrying the bulk of those weighty consequences.
These are lessons we are passing on to our children.
When those not "directly" involved remain silent we are teaching our children that the best way to combat hatred and racism is to do nothing, to remain silent.
Apathy is not serving anyone. Complacency will not heal a community or move us forward.
For every social media post saying "I'm not defending it but…" there is work to be done. For everyone who chooses to talk only about the looting that has followed, rather than the death and injustice, there's work to be done.
For everyone who sidesteps the issue saying "well, not all white people," there is work to be done.
Our society has changes to make and while it may not be easy to undo such deep-seated problems, it is absolutely crucial.
"Learning is hard. Unlearning is harder. Pretending that most of us don't need to do either when it comes to racism is it's own form of violence."- Brene Brown.
In his column, Crump wrote," This is a moment for deep reflection and fundamental change…It's a moment for all Americans to take a hard looking the mirror, change themselves, and demand change from their institutions. Only then will we be able to breathe again."
It is not enough to be quietly non-racist, right now is the time to be vocally anti-racist. You have breath, use it for change.
Cydney Baron is the editor of the Claremore Progress.