As we avidly follow the televised proceedings of the ongoing Chauvin trial, our thoughts are routed back to our earlier essay, “What Do We Tell the Children?” The earlier writing candidly focuses on American history’s dark periods, the most shameful of which, inarguably, was the period of the enslavement of black human beings, and the ensuing persistence of the injustice and immorality of Jim Crow prejudice.
Governmental legislation has been enacted relative to the elimination of the immoral, atavistic, and prejudicial treatment of black Americans, legally decreeing the equality of all citizens, regardless of race, color, or creed. Nevertheless, neither Statutes providing for universal equality, such as the Voting Rights Act and other major Civil Rights Legislation, nor confirming, precedential Court Rulings have, empirically, had sufficient ameliorative impact on our population of intractably bigoted citizens. An archaic and irrational perception and generally contextual prejudice, against people of color, appears stubbornly to persist, in the generational psyche of (too) many members of the American society.
The fact-pattern in the Chauvin prosecution is an illustrative example of the numerous instances of unconscionable treatment, including homicide, of unarmed black men, by white police officers. The Chauvin case is painfully demonstrative of the irrationally skewed context in which police, and too many others, maintain toward American people of color. It was an especial relief for all right-thinking citizens to take note that the white police chief, and the other white witnesses [as well as black] testified uniformly, to the practice of brutally excessive and arbitrary force, practiced by the white police officer, Chauvin, against the handcuffed, supine and completely immobilized, black arrestee, George Floyd.
To be fair, the general context and maintenance of white prejudicial attitudes toward blacks has, of late, been somewhat ameliorated, but far too slowly and incompletely. Despite the appropriate enactment of civil rights Statutes, it has been our observation that legislation in this area is relatively ineffectual, without a concomitant change in the bigoted mindset of those whose inclinations are thus intended to be legislatively proscribed. In our view, effective personal persuasion, by morally inclined citizens, is a mandatorily requirement, in addition to legal strictures, to achieve meaningful results regarding this generationally, chronic inheritance.
The much-admired philosopher and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, wisely and memorably said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.”
Those Americans who sincerely aspire to the Nation’s attainment of its publicly avowed and emblematic promises of universal equality and moral justice have an historical mandate to become pro-active in the accomplishment of that aspiration. We are of the view that the American white citizens in equal measure to those of color have a vested interest in an America finally and redemptively, living up to its avowal of equality and justice for all. It empirically appears to be insufficient, merely to be in favor of civil rights; white Americans, perforce, have a symbolically historical, redemptive, and moral obligation to be outspoken and affirmatively, pro-active in the cause of existing racial and ethnic equality.
We are thus of the view, that when the occasion prompts, it is the derivative moral mandate of all white, upstanding American citizens, actively and resolutely, to join their fellow citizens of color in the effort to eradicate this evil and irrational prejudice, bequeathed to us all, as an unwanted legacy from an earlier National period. It would be tantamount to the engagement in a symbolic historic redemption, for white American citizens, to actively and energetically, agitate for black racial equality.
Regarding the question concerning an acceptable response to the sensitive question, what do we tell our children, posed earlier, we might candidly advise them of the dark periods in American history, and of our dedicated and personal efforts to redemptively ameliorate them.