[Ad]dressing the Wound: America Is Not Scarred By Racism

I've read and listened to a lot of commentary over the past few months about the history of racial tensions in America. All of them centered around a central theme-- that our country was wounded, scarred and a survived the injury of racism. But are we really?

A woman faces down a line of Baltimore police officers in riot gear on Monday during protests after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Courtesy of The Washington Post.

A woman faces down a line of Baltimore police officers in riot gear on Monday during protests after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Courtesy of The Washington Post.

If we're honest with ourselves, we know America is not 'scarred' by racism. That would imply that there is a healed wound that now serves as a reminder of a past indignation. The wound of racism has never healed. It has always been open and ghastly to those who choose to see it. But how can anyone walk around with a gaping, bloody gash and never notice it? Surely someone has to have said something to them. It might sound absurd, but people are walking around injured and oblivious everyday.

As much as I am not a fan of the fetish with zombie culture (i.e. shows like Walking Dead), even I can recognize that we are in an 'apocalypse.' In a quick search on my most reputable resources (joke), Wikepedia describes Zombies as "undead creatures, typically depicted as mindless, reanimated human corpses with a hunger for human flesh." Morbid much? Still, this makes complete sense if viewing it in comparison to how Americans can live in a state of such aloofness.

There are millions of humans choosing not to wake-up out of their trance of privilege. Just like zombies they don't know they're dead. I imagine zombies only think about a few things, all of which lead them to exhibit the same quality of behaviors:

  1. They are oblivious to the inhumanities and injustices happening around them. 
  2. They are incapable of empathy or viewing something from someone else's perspective.
  3. They are focused on self-centered and preserving agendas... almost to the point of mindless devotion. 

They're easy to spot. You've probably though of a handful while reading through that short list. Beware of these 'zombies.' If you're not careful, they will suck the joy and energy out of your life. No need to constantly engage in debates with these people. They are not engaged in discourse to learn from it, rather to conquer it. 

On a more serious (and realistic) note, when attempting to address a conflict, even in the case of the social injustices the African-American community faces, you will only be successful if people are willing to admit they need help and direction. Just like in many practices, patients can refuse treatment and the physician must respect their decision. (Granted there are a few loopholes, but not enough time to discuss them here).

In the same light, some people will, for whatever reason, choose to walk around afflicted and and at risk. Our jobs as activists are to help those who want it. Why just this group? Because once you began to heal the injuries of this group the others watching will take note. They'll see how much better the people who are tended to become and sooner than later, they'll realize how bad their condition really is.  They'll come for help eventually and when they do, you'll be right there to show them the care and attention they need to get better.

I actually hope to live to see the day where racism is a  scar on America's flesh. I don't, however think the day will come where there's no sign of the damage that's been done. Knowing the nature of man, we know there will always be evils and injustice in the world. There is no way to eradicate it, only heal it. Not cover it with make-up or hide it under our clothing, but dress the wound in order to heal the injury so that a scar or reminder can form. At least then we'll know that we've healed from this severe injury and are working diligently everyday to lightened it's mark.