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An Open Letter to the Rest of America

To the 74% of white Americans who used to believe there was no race problem in this country.

Who denied the existence of racism as a factor in every cause célèbre from Rodney King to Philando Castile. Who believed we had attained a colorblind society because we had a Black president.

Welcome to reality. The reality for people of color who face haters like those who marched on Charlottesville every day of our lives. They come in the form of the hiring manager who trashes every application coming from an “ethnic” sounding applicant. They come in the form of the banker who redlines our neighborhood – corralling us in the ghettos like cattle penned for slaughter. They come in the form of the police, and prosecutors and public pretenders and judges and prison guards who have made a cottage industry of our criminalization.

They are your neighbors and your friends and your relatives, yet you have been blind to their corrosive hate because it wasn’t aimed at you.

Now that the cancer has been diagnosed, now that the sheet has been snatched off the bogey-man; now that you cannot deny what has been made clear to all – now is the time to take a stand and disavow the haters among you.

Curiously, whenever an African American makes an insulting or hurtful comment, every African American in this country is called upon – in public or private discourse – to denounce the offender. Well, that being the case, you understand the drill.

The difference is that armed thugs threatening people with violence calls for a bit more than verbal recriminations. It calls for radical surgery.

Stop hiding from racism and talk about it, listen to it, teach your children to recognize and shun it.

Don’t stand on the sidelines as jack-booted Nazis march down your avenues. Don’t look back after the worst has happened and rend your garments and gnash your teeth at the barbarity of your fellow countrymen. Stop them now before they spread.

I’m old enough to remember when the national meme on Nazism was to wonder with wide-eyed innocence how human beings could have been so vicious to one another – how evil the German people must have been to stand by and passively participate in the slaughter of innocents – how that sort of thing could never happen in America.

It seems we have forgotten far too soon that which, as a nation, we once pledged never to forget.

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