Last month, Editor Ed Puskas wrote a profound and prophetic editorial “A sickening tale of Two Americas.” It was initiated over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Subsequently, the death of George Floyd brought us to a tipping point. Was it the nature of his death, suffocating under the knee of a law enforcement officer, or was this outrage towards an America that has refused to treat black citizens with equal justice and human understanding? The killings continue while justice disgracefully waits. Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem to draw attention to the wrongs being committed against black citizens, it cost him his dream of continuing as an NFL quarterback. The knee Kaepernick courageously took is, ironically, in dark symbolic contrast to the knee that George Floyd took to his neck.
There has always been two Americas from the moment the first Europeans set foot here. First, the indigenous tribes, then the slaves, then all people of color, different religions and beliefs, different cultures and different sexual orientations became the America of unequal justice. The great Civil Rights leaders of our time, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. all assassinated. Before and after their deaths is a litany of atrocities in a history of intolerance and injustice. It is time to own who we are as a nation and what we have always been.
We Americans have much to be proud of. We wave our flags to demonstrate that pride, but it becomes a facade if we cannot admit the wrongs being done to our own citizens. Ownership of those wrongs as a nation takes understanding. A nation in which one America, as Mr. Puskas acknowledged, must look over its shoulder when it walks out the door and the other America which walks out carefree.
Black Lives Matter is a cry for equal justice in the black community. We cannot know what it is like in that America until we can understand its anguish and pain. Black Lives Matter is a movement we all must address, because the lives of all our people depend upon its message.
White supremacists, racists, xenophobes and the poorly informed of all walks of life are being deduced by fear driven divisiveness that is the trademark of these times. This pandemic has given us a chance to reflect; live more simply, and to decide which America do we stand with. In the words of Congressman John Lewis, the last of King’s civil rights leaders, “we all have a role to play.” Our roles may take many forms but change will not come until we can lay our bodies down figuratively or literally. America can be great again, and I want an America of which we can all be proud. What we are as a nation can become what we were. Hope I live long enough.