I wrote a bit of a tome about racism and my apology for being a member of the group that is primarily responsible for it. I wrote it yesterday. It has apparently struck a nerve because I’ve subsequently seen it quoted in Huffington post and The Nation, among other places.
I’ve received hundreds, literally, hundreds of comments such as “you are my brother” and “we consider you to be a member of our family” and “thank you for having the courage to say what we’ve been hoping someone would say”. The response has been overwhelming. And it woddint jus from black folk.
I’ve heard from India, China, Japan, Denmark, Holland, most of Europe, South America and all over the United States. Not all agreed with my sentiments. Some said things like “speak for yourself”, proving that they really hadn’t read it very carefully since I spoke for only myself. It was me who apologized.
But of the black people who did respond, (at least those who identified themselves as such), not a single one argued with me. Not a single one said anything like “you should be ashamed of yourself”. No one admonished me. Those who identified themselves as black spent more time telling me not to fret, not to be ashamed, not to blame myself.
These people, the people who are genuinely in mourning over this tragedy, told me stories of friends and family members who have been lynched, beaten, shot, arrested and hated for their skin color for their entire lives. They told me stories of fear of the police and how they have to speak to their teenage children about how to act when there are cops around, for fear that they might get arrested or shot just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They told me many, many stories. And then they mostly did something else…
Then, the great majority of these people, those who identified themselves as black and were feeling severe pain over this most recent racist attack, these people tried to console ME. Some invoked Gods will, some reminded me that it wasn’t me who pulled the trigger, that the fact that I felt the need to apologize proves that I’m part of the solution. Some spoke eloquently, some spoke in halting English, some sounded as if they didn’t write very often and weren’t very good at it. Some of the best responses contained the worst English. But the messages got through.
Not a single one spoke of retaliation, of hatred for whites, or of the incredulity that they must be feeling over the perpetuation of these incidents.
But almost invariably, these people who have suffered this fate for centuries spent more time trying to console me than feeling sorry for themselves. They expressed more sympathy toward me than they did for their dead brothers and sisters. They, with their gracious, sometimes misspelled words, patted me on the head, put their hands on my shoulder and offered to hug me if they ever met me.
I’ve written hundreds of posts with thousands of words on this blog, but can’t find the words to describe how that feels.