SLATE on-line news magazine reports that in many US cities, protests that begin over the “power racism” of the Ferguson crisis are broadening to address racial injustice at the hands of police in many cities, and are shutting down a number of US highways.
The list of cities includes NYC (the FDR Drive & Hudson Tunnel), Boston, Nashville, Portland, Providence, & Durham. This photo above is Baltimore. (Expand it by clicking on the title of this article.)
Already these protests have become the first nation-wide protest ever, against rampant racist behavior by many police forces.
If these protests remain nonviolent, they might bring fully into American consciousness the continuing cancer of institutional and structural “power racism.” They might spark a major reexamination of this major aspect of our rampant Disase of Domination, a reexamination committed to face the truth.
Not easy — for this Disease of Domination corrupts and poisons offical US actions not only toward Black, Brown, & Native communities but also toward the Earth, the poor, middle-class workers, women, students and teachers in the public schools, and many other elements of our society
And if the institutions that claim to be the forces of “order” — the police, National Guard, and the military — refrain from using force and violence against these protests, we might see the beginnings of a profound reconciliation of the deepest chasm in our country — the chasm of race.
The decision whether to smash these protests or respond to them with hope and openness will not be decided by the police and military alone. It will depend on us — all of us. What will we demand?
Many Americans believe or assume that slavery is over, a thing of the past. Its very worst aspects are. But the system left a scar deep within our body politic, a subtle but profoundly wounding cancer that we have pretended did not exist.
Among those who see themseves as masters, there is an arrogance so deep it pretends there’s nothing there. Among those who communites have been directly wounded, subjugation has taken forms of political restrictions, economic subordination, educational deprivation — and, of course, the danger that any young Black man could be humiliated, imprisoned, or killed by the police.
Notice that this fear does not affect only those who actually get attacked. Every one who is taught to share the fear is forced either into humiliated self-denial, or rebellious fury.
So together we might all welcome this great upsurge of dignity. We might accept that even if we find it a little harder to reach the dinner-tables where we intend to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, we have now the opportunity for an even deeper Giving of Thanks.
May we tomorrow thank the God Whose Justice Jefferson feared, for providing us with the possibility of deeper, fuller justice that arises from our turning ourselves toward sorrow, honest self-understanding, confession, and then — only then — reconciliation.
Make a recurring donation and receive Freedom Journeys as our token of appreciation. Click here for more info about the book. Freedom Journeys is a deep meditation on the timeless—and timely—relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened “then” and “there”, but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. —Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina.