A powerful new call for the empowerment and respect of Black people has been issued. It has transcended grassroots activism, permeated discussion of culture and power, made demands on those in political positions, and inspired a creative response from artists. For non-Black folks it can feel alienating, aggressive, “disrespectful”, divisive… But I have never understood why embracing and celebrating a call for freedom by one group, in any way threatens others. We are not rooting for opposing teams, our allegiance is not required of us, our ancestors do not define our futures.
Important buildings are named after titans of industry, we claim heroes of the past as echoes in ourselves, we want who were are to connect to who we were. We seek out a legacy, traits passed down, roots keeping us firmly planted. But I posit there is a deep fallacy to this logic. Many people don’t have family with names recorded in history, or some recorded in infamy, and many others with ancestry that ought to be left in the past. This quandary seeks to unearth why ought anyone feel filial piety to the slave owner? Here is an image of a whipping post, and who among us feels the need to be identified with the man holding the whip?
This man’s grandchildren live amongst us today, but they are not doomed to repeat this history. Their liberation, my liberation and your liberation is directly bound to Black liberation. I do not want to be a person who inflicts pain onto others, I do not want to benefit from the suffering of others, I do not want my joy to be at the cost of others’ sadness. Rather in the demands for justice and freedom made by others, I hear echoes in my own soul.