Arthur W. Page Society

When is America Going to Love Us Back?

When I went to bed a few nights ago, the last thing I saw on my phone was the tail end of a story and the accompanying video of a Black man getting into his car and being shot in the back by a White police officer while his children watched from the back seat. I tuned it out because I needed to at that moment. And when I awoke, and looked at my television, I saw Doc Rivers with tears in his eyes, saying with disbelief, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.” At that moment, I cried with him.

Truth be told, I’ve asked myself a version of that same question for decades. Black people have done more than what has been demanded of us. We built this country while shackled and beaten. We’ve endured brutality, lynching, murder, rape, and torture. We've cleaned your houses, cooked your meals and raised your children. We’ve swallowed our pride and subjugated ourselves. We've stood by while you demeaned us and tried to break our spirit. We’ve been the center of sports teams and delivered championships that made billions of dollars for White team owners. We’ve done everything you have asked and more even when it was to our detriment, and so often it was – and still is. We are shot in cold blood. We are hunted like animals by so-called “vigilantes.” We are treated as though we are subhuman more often than we are treated with equality. And yet, we keep coming back to our genuine love for this country because we believe that one day – some day—we will overcome.

I’m not an activist, but I have a voice. And with that voice, I say Enough is Enough. Just stop. Think. Ask yourself, ‘would I like to trade places with a Black man or woman today?’ And if the answer is no, and we both know that it will be. Ask yourself why and then get right with the world, because what’s happening today isn’t hurting our country. It is destroying it. 

Last week, I bought a shirt that said “I Can’t Breathe.”  I didn’t buy the shirt to pay homage to George Floyd although that would have been a worthy reason.  I bought it because I’m finding it harder and harder to exhale in America.  I’m finding it harder and harder to love in America.  I love this country and everything that I think it stands for, but I don’t understand why I and my Black brothers and sisters are made to feel that we should feel lucky to be here at all.  To feel like unwelcome guests in our own homes. I don’t understand why I have to be afraid to leave my house. I don’t understand why some White people hate us just because of the color of our skin, but will lay in the sun for hours to get a tan like ours.  Do you not see the hypocrisy?  We are only a threat to you, because you continue to threaten and kill us for no reason at all.  What is so broken in you, that you feel you have to break us?  Why are you allowed to breathe freely and not us?  Why? 

On the recent anniversary of MLK’s "I Have a Dream" speech, I remembered this quote from "Letter from Birmingham Jail":

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

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