We've treated racism as though it were an unattended pot on the cooktop. You hear the lid click now and then. You hear a pop or a hiss. Steam escapes. And every now and then the pot boils over. Hissing. Spilling. Sticking to the cooktop. Now you've got a mess. You clean up. You move on.
That's what it's like for some of us.
But the lid is off. Again.
Some of my friends live inside the unattended pot. For them, racism is like a never-healing wound. The scab has been ripped off once again. The pain is fresh, real, raw, and screaming in your face.
But it's not new. It's every day.
Why? Why is it that way? Does it have to be that way? Can we change the way we think and act? Can we change or influence the way other people think and act?
My wife and daughter, both white, were walking in our neighborhood with my daughter's best friend who is black. A white man I don't know was working in his back yard. He looked at our friend and spoke loudly in a harsh tone.
"Walk somewhere else."
We walk in our neighborhood a lot. People are used to seeing us pass by. It was obvious that the words were directed at our friend because of the color of her skin. They kept walking. My wife and daughter were stunned at what had just happened and apologized to our friend.
She said, "It's every day."
Those words stung. They still sting. "Every. Day."
I've seen the rioting and the violence. I don't excuse those acts; neither do I let those acts diminish the power of this moment in time. Our brothers and sisters have boiled over. Emotions are spilling and sticking to everything.
Instead of cleaning up our mess and moving on, we need to get the pan away from the heat.
Our brothers and sisters are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
I'm a middle-age white man. What can I do to stop racism?
I can change myself. I can listen. I can embrace.
I can see you.
I can hear you.
I can love you.