I was raised by a pacifist who wholly believed Dr King and Mahatma Ghandi’s creed of nonviolence. Then I learned about WWII and confronted bullies on the playground and realized that sometimes violence is a necessary response to injustice and violence. I enlisted in the Marines to put action to my belief that I was willing to do or suffer violence for what I believe. Then I learned about my grandfather who gave his life to respond to violence and oppression. Now violence has erupted unlike any since the first Rodney King verdict or the riots of 1968 after Dr King’s murder and that of Sen Kennedy. (And yes I am old enough to remember those days and watching those events on the Evening News alongside the nightly updates from Vietnam.)
From all of this I have learned one indelible fact: if all that is left is violence then listening has failed. White America has failed to listen. We must listen, respond, and ultimately erase the racism upon which our Republic was founded. Neither the Civil War nor the Civil Rights movement erased that history nor its systemic inequality. The false narratives I was taught in school enshrined mythology and lies as holy writ and entrenched racism and white privilege as a cultural fact even as the law attempted to eradicate its effects.
I want my brothers and sisters of color to know that I see you, I feel your pain, I hear your fear, and I share your outrage. I am saddened by the violence but I understand the place from which it rises and from which it demands expression.