“This movement is happening without you, despite you. But real transformation is not possible unless you listen deeply, sincerely, even when it is painful, and take brave action at your own risk to fight for the things the Black community is demanding of you. When Black people speak, and you do not listen, you are creating the conditions of a riot. And when you tell us we are exaggerating, playing the martyr, making it all up, then you cannot be surprised when we elect militancy to make you comprehend what you refused to understand when we were peaceful.”
“When Black people speak” and just which black people are they? Are they the ones in the big cities? Are they the ones in suburbia? Are they the homeless? Are they the rich? Are they the ones in gangs? Are they the ones in jail? Are they the ones on drugs? I have heard of many both black and white community leaders who have tried to bring those marginalized blacks together with the white leadership to come up with solutions to the black’s discontent with only nominal success. The only truly successful solution is when there are one-on-one conversations going on.
The more I know you as a person and you know me as a person, the less influence stereotypes play in our relationship. Ideally, the black community and the white community need to be neighbors. It is this neighborhood segregation that has led to so much mistrust and tension among the minorities. And this is not limited to the blacks. There are Asian, Muslim, Mexican and Eastern European minorities who often live together because they do not speak fluent English.
Where I live I am surrounded by Indian families who are here on their green cards and who speak little if any English. I can communicate with the kids but not the mothers because the kids are enrolled in our public schools. Otherwise all the mothers congregate together. Only those mothers who speak fluent English (and there are a few) mix very freely with the rest of us.
I agree with the author that we all need to listen, but more importantly, we need to engage ourselves in our common desire to know each other. It is only then that the term minority will lose its sting.