By CLARENCE E. GLOVER Jr.
Sankofa Garden Homes
Dear White America,
As we have just celebrated the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington in the mist of Black Lives Matter Movement, the United States is experiencing a national divide that if not soon healed will lead to deepening social chaos. And yet, as thousands gather in Washington, D.C. in a pool of cultural diversity, the answers to the recent racial unrest still eludes our nation.
As many call for new conversations on race relations and racism the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still ring in our ears with unique familiarity, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these trues to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’” I invite you to listen to the entire I Have a Dream Speech at: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm.
As you listen, please know that King like many Black Americans have known that there have been and still are many White brothers and sisters who join us in the movement for justice and human dignity. They join us because they know at their freedom is wrapped up in our freedom and our freedom is wrapped up in their freedom. And yet there are those White Americans who because of a dysfunctional interpretation of “race” have viewed themselves as superior and people of color as inferior.
These White people do not understand that their view of humanity is an antiquated interpretation of faulty science. That the theory of their being different “races” is a negative social construct created during the period of European exploration and domination.
As a former adjunct professor of African American Studies at Southern Methodist University during the ‘80s and ‘90s, I encouraged my students to learn how to ask the right questions in my course entitled Black and White. I knew then as I know now, you cannot understand the Black American experience unless you understand the White American experience. As the Kerner Commission Report on Civil Disorder 1968 stated:
“What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget – is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it.”
If we are to address the real problems of social unrest, we must ask the right questions of White Americans. Do you know the true history of America? Do you know the contributions of Black Americans? Do you know the history of Africa as the origins of humanity? Do you understand how systemic White racism creates systemic White privilege? To begin with these questions is to begin to understand how White America benefits from a nation not built by you but built for you.
Can White Americans come together with other Americans and build a New America for all citizens. Can White America address the negative historical constructs of our nation? Only by asking the right questions can we come to the right answers. Difficult though they may be, they are necessary.
On July 17, 2020, I lost two great mentors, Congressman John Lewis and Dr. C.T. Vivian. They along with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Mrs. Rosa Parks, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Julian Bonds and other civil rights veterans shared with me the vision they embraced with King for America. This was a vision to “redeem the soul of America.” While many poetic words were used during the Civil Rights Movement, we must give them concrete meaning.
The soul of America implied the souls of White America. As a Jim Crow survivor – born before 1964 – I am aware of the reality of legalized racism and segregation. Black and White Americans who lived during Jim Crow must speak up now and create a coalition of conscious and help guide a new generation through this period of social reconstruction.
I encourage you to order, In Remembrance of Martin, The First Federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Observance 1986 PBS Documentary, Idanha Films, which I served as consultant and interviewer, from PBS at 1-800-344-3337 item number wb5832. As you view the documentary it is my hope that White America will ask “why what happen, happen and what can White America do to change to help build a New America?
Together We Dream, Let Freedom!
With the purpose of “Taking the chains off our brains, so our minds can work,” Professor Clarence E. Glover Jr., known as Professor Freedom of Sankofa Education Services, is a cultural diversity speaker and trainer and has been inducted into the African American Education Archives and History Program during The Bobbie L. Lang Hall of Fame. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.