A Guide To The Protests For White People

This is how revolutions start.  Not with a bang, but with a whimper.  

A black man calling for his dead mother as he himself dies under the knee of a white policeman as his fellow policemen watch.

I consider myself to be a good man, or in the least I try to be.  Had you asked me a month ago if I was a racist, I would have scoffed at you.

I would have pointed out that I have black friends.  I would have told you how I have raised all of my children to believe the notion that all men are created equal, and no one should be judged by the color of their skin.  

But if there is one lesson that I have learned over the last month or so.... I, a middle aged white man, a veteran, a parent, a small business owner from the midwest... perhaps the most stereotypical white guy you'll ever meet... it is that you don't have to be a racist to be part of the problem.  You don't have to run around yelling the N word.

"Systemic Racism" is a term that many of us do not genuinely understand.  I didn't.  

Here is the dictionary definition:

Institutional racism (also known as systemic racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other issues.

I have come to realize that I am as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

When Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, I was angry.  If I'm being honest, I sounded a great deal like Drew Brees at the time.  I felt that he was disrespecting MY flag, the flag I served under.  Like Drew and many others, including our president, I said that while I agreed that the issues he was bringing up were valid, he needed to find a different way to make his point.

It took the events of the last month to show me how wrong I was.  And it wasn't George Floyd that showed me.  It was, of all people, Shannon Sharpe.

I am a white man.  And the reality is, my America is not the same America that George Floyd died in.  If it was me on the ground that day, I would not have died.  Even today, all men are not created equal here. When I see the flag, I see MY America.  But who am I to demand that Colin Kaepernick honor my beliefs?  In a world of equality, I would be right to do so.  But... Kaepernick is correct.  The America that flag represents to me is not a world that most people of color know.  I have lived here in my small, predominantly white middle class midwestern town oblivious to what is really happening in our Nation.

It's easy to tell him to find a different way.  But it is equally unrealistic.   And we as Americans should, of all people, understand this.

We now see the problem.  I see the problem.  Not just peripherally, but in its eye.  We are witnessing a revolution.  Ironically, as the people of this country rise up, we see that the police in many cases are responding to protests of police brutality with further and increased police brutality.  

And it isn't just the police.  Just days ago, I watched as the most disgusting political publicity stunt in our nation's history occurred.  I watched as our president coordinated a propaganda laced press conference with an attack on peaceful protesters executed with military precision... and it should have been; it was conducted by the military... so that he could awkwardly stand holding a bible for a photo op.  No words of encouragement for our country.  No attempt to bring anyone together.  It was a "Sixth Sense" moment for me.

I thought back to things he has said over the last 3 years.  "Great people on both sides".  "Shithole countries".  "Build that wall".  I see his actions over the last few weeks.  He just Tweeted yesterday that he wouldn't be watching the NFL if players kneel.  But his words are hollow; the man doesn't care any more for patriotism than he does for the bible he held.

Our president is a racist.  He does racist things.  He Tweets racist tropes daily.  He fosters a society where racism is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

And I voted for him.  God help me, I did.  And I did so knowing exactly who he was.  I thought a great deal about that choice, but in the end I decided that morals no longer matter.  

What most of don't realize is that George Floyd... this movement... Black Lives Matter... cannot succeed unless we eliminate the head of the racism monster.  And right now, that head resides in the White House.

Through this entire event, Donald Trump has done nothing to help.  As we as a country are waking up and saying "holy shit! There really is a problem!"... finally seeing beyond our white privileged, self absorbed oblivion.... and as we are, our president is fighting us every step of the way.

We are waking up.... not by our own awareness, but forced to be aware by the upheaval across our country... to the fact that racism is ground in deep.  Military bases named after men who fought for the right to own other men.  Who killed fellow Americans for that right.  The question of weather we should change the names of these bases.... bring down statues of the same men.... should be all but redundant.  And yet Trump is attempting to shut that down.

The Truth is without a leader who believes that Black Lives Matter.... they never fully will.

And so now my eyes are open.  Every one of us who chose to remain oblivious to these basic human rights issues in our own back yard is a part of the problem.  This is the United States of America.  One nation under God.... not white folks under God.  We are the country who stands up for those who are oppressed.  

As we witness this revolution.... and make no mistake, that's what this is.... this is the time to join in.  For us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans... All of them... and fight this fight.  Stop making excuses.  We tell them to find a different ways, but look what happens when they do.  Colin Kaepernick did, and we as a country ran him out of the NFL.  We told him he was unpatriotic... which in the end made us the unpatriotic ones.

I won't tell you how to stand up; we all have to find our own path.  But I will tell you that it begins with knowledge.  Educate yourself.  Learn these American's names.  Not just George Floyd.  Learn who these soldiers, these heroes, are.  Olawatoyin Salau died this week; her body was found this morning.  She was 19 years old.  Last week she was amongst the most vocal of protesters.  She was there, at the front.  Hours before, she had been raped.  Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch are two black men who were strung up from trees and hanged last week by a conservative militant group.   Rayshard Brooks was gunned down by police at an Atlanta Wendys.  And these are just names from the last few days.

You have a voice.  We all do.  If we all, collectively, make them heard.... the world will listen.  Look around.  It's already starting to.  Find a way to peacefully stand up.  Those who have, for the last several weeks, come before us laid the ground work.  Has it been ugly at times?  Of course.  That's what revolutions look like.  All of it, including the riots and the looting and the fires.  Do you for one moment believe that anyone would have listened if people had simply congregated peacefully?  Would the British have noticed if we has simply asked nicely?  No.  It took a war.

But the time for violence is past.  We have the attention of the world.  Now it's time for us all to get off of the bench and get involved.  As for me, I will march.  I will make my voice heard.  I will cast my vote to cast the racists out of Washington.  I realize now that I have spent years hiding behind a faux patriotism that simply enabled me to turn a blind eye to the most UnAmeraican of abused.  I will no longer follow racist leaders, nor will I ignore their racism.  And I will not allow myself to passively be a part of that racism again.  This is the time to stand up and act like the American I have laid claim to being.