The George Floyd trial is over. Most believe that the verdict was just…and the ugliness of racism is beginning to recede from the news.
Most Americans became uncomfortable when confronted with racism on that scale. We witnessed other videos and learned that racist epitaphs were hurled at Black Capitol police officers during the January 6th riot.
Sadly, the memory of George Floyd has dimmed, and attention has been turned elsewhere. COVID 19 continues to divide the country, and Afghanistan and other issues dominate the media landscape.
Some of the remaining debate centers on the extent of racism, with some believing that these are isolated incidents. While others see a frustrating. systemic racism that renders us powerless.
If history is an indicator, racism will continue to haunt us. New incidents will arise, such as the trial of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man killed while jogging by White vigilantes.
But there are less visible scars from racism. Not believing in oneself, learned helplessness, a belief that the deck is permanently stacked. Systemic racism tamps down ambition, as generations of Nonwhite Americans have concluded that the wheel of opportunity is rigged. Even with the gains of each generation and the positive impact of affirmative action, progress remains frustratingly slow.
The world is not given to us because we are White, but we enjoy special privileges without being aware of them. My friends and I worked hard to be successful; but we were given the keys to the system by our parents and grandparents. Affirmative action may give someone a key, but if he doesn’t know where or what a lock is…it is pretty hard to get in the door.
It is impossible for me to understand the trauma caused by generations of racism. I wonder how a Nonwhite American can distinguish White racists from White Americans who want change. History might cause someone to believe that all White American belong the first group.
These are not easy conversations.
Fortunately, a local group, St Michaels Community Conversations, hosts these discussions. On Tuesday, November 30, at 5 p.m., St Michaels Community Conversations will partner with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to host a virtual conversation via ZOOM about long-term racial trauma. Sherone Lewis from Mid-Shore Behavioral Health, Inc. will speak about the trauma of racism from the perspective of the perpetrator and the victim. After her presentation, the group will engage in open dialog, with a goal of mutual understanding.
I hope that everyone who is curious will participate in this conversation. To receive a ZOOM link, email [email protected].
As we learn to walk in each other’s shoes, a true American melting pot can emerge. What a great opportunity for us all!
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.