Leadership cuts both ways. When you are given authority, people tend to follow your lead. If that leadership is upright, a society can be led to prosperity. If that leadership is evil, a society can be led into catastrophe, as was the case in Nazi Germany.
Leadership under Donald Trump is rife with language, symbols and viewpoints consistent with white nationalists. He leads by example whether he chooses to embrace responsibility for it or not. The result of his leadership has resulted in a spike in American white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center report, titled, Year in Hate and Extremism, documents 155 active white nationalist hate groups, a 55 percent increase in such groups over 2018 (1). When he directly quotes 1960’s racists Walter Headley who said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,“ he weaponizes hate speech.
America’s historical leadership and the system they designed has, once again, led us to our current state of racial unrest. While I do not condone the looting and destruction of property happening in a few portions of today’s protests, there’s a double standard here. When it comes to black lives in America, if leaders and law enforcers do not follow laws they are sworn to uphold, should they really be surprised if a portion of historically victimized citizens don’t uphold those laws either?
The very mindset that would enslave people, rip them from their homelands and force them to build this country for free, is the same mindset that designed a system to continuously oppress people of color. Generational oppression has become America’s bedrock.
This same system has morphed into controlling our right to vote, where we could live, and whether we can peacefully kneel in protest of police brutality during a football game. The cards of justice dealt to black America continue to get shuffled and reshuffled and, like Vegas, the house always wins. Sadly, in its winning, the shackles of the past remain fastened around our necks to this very day.
One of the major issues facing our nation is not whether all lives matter (of course they do) but rather, the significance of why Black Lives should Matter to you. In order for all lives to matter, black lives MUST matter. If you don’t agree, I suggest you take a minute and try this simple evaluation. Acclaimed diversity educator, Jane Elliott (2) challenged students in her lecture to be honest about social inequities when she said, “You know what’s happening. You know you don’t want it for you. I want to know why you’re willing to accept it or to allow it to happen for others?”
To her point, if you are not willing to trade places with or live by the same boundaries and treatments prescribed to black America, then you have not only shown that you are aware of the injustice in America but you will also have proven the significance of why Black Lives Matter.
Let’s continue a peaceful and uncomfortable dialogue about how we can change this country to be a place where “liberty and justice for all” isn’t only a pledge but a daily expression of the new American way of life.