HAMLET (Speaking to his mother, Gertrude)

Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, scene III, act IV)

America let’s sit a moment and talk.  Sit still, while we hold up a mirror so that “you may see the inmost part of you.”

Are you pleased with the America that you see?  Are you pleased with how quickly you have grown, from an infant nation uncertain even in your founding, what exactly you would become?  And listen, anyone proclaiming that they (the founders) had any clue what we would become is either ascribing supernatural powers to themselves, or they are so ensconced in their own reality, with their own perceptions and interpretations of the events leading up to now, that they believe that this is what was intended.

The thing about looking into the mirror is that it takes our 3-dimensional past, displays it as a 2-dimensional image juxtaposed over and under by subsequent images past and present. We end up seeing the breath of the problem but not the depth.

As we look over the events of just the last few months, the abuses of authority, the shooting, the killing of unarmed Black and Brown Men and then juxtapose them over the events of the last few months, in Staten Island, Baltimore, in Ferguson, in Zion, in Cleveland, in Queens, in Pennsylvania, we see a conflation of actions that speak to insidious nature of the institutional racism that exists in our nation.

When we look at the disparity between the way white men and Black men are treated by the justice system what we are seeing is system stripped of all nuance and subtlety.  A system where a knee on the neck of George Floyd, a Black Man by a police officer, and a pat on the back and a bottle of water to Kyle Rittenhouse, a white man who had just been pointed out to police as a person who had just shot three people, killing two of them, are both looked upon, by some, as ok.

A system where Black People are so unvalued that Philando Castile, a Black Man can be shot 5 times and killed in front of his partner and her daughter.

Where Jacob Blake, a Black Father can be shot, in the back seven times, in front of his sons.

Where Breonna Taylor, a Black Woman, can be awakened from her sleep in the middle of the night, shot eight times and killed in her home.

Where Sandra Bland, a Black Woman can be killed in the custody of police for failure to signal in traffic.

All harmed by people sworn to “protect and serve.”

Where Treyvon Martin a Black Teenager can be killed for walking down a street in his father’s neighborhood. 

Where Ahmaud Arbery, a Black Man can be hunted down and killed for simply taking a morning jog.

These Black Men killed by vigilantes with no legal allegiance, just an allegiance to a cause of suppression and oppression of a people who have earned the right to live and be free.

It is the breath of this cause that it gives us pause.  Is this too difficult a task, is this beyond us?  It is the depth of this cause, though, that gives us reason, reason to continue this struggle.

What we are not seeing because of the confusion of that conflation is that, in the depths of the image is a shift in the look and the dynamics of it. In the cacophony of voices and sounds there has been a change in the tone and timbre. The cacophony has become a symphony.

What we must remember about a symphony is that it is more than just a song, it is a series of songs that become a movement. Movements that come together to tell the story, this story, a story of change.

The depths of racism in this country are so deep that at its core it is affecting all of America. Healthcare, education, housing, employment, business, these are all areas touched and influenced by what is a most insidious of affectations.

Racism is a disease of the heart. A disease not unlike the virus COVID19 in that it hardens the heart in much the same way that the virus does our lungs and other organs.

There is a cure, though, for this disease.  It begins with concern and compassion.  It continues with a commitment to caring.  Finally, a will to change.

  • Concern will lead to identifying where the roots of our problems as a people are.
  • Compassion will lead to empathy, the recognizing of another’s pain. To feel another’s pain. To walk a mile in another’s shoes.
  • Commitment to caring is where we lift one another up.  Where we replenish, refresh, and restore the faith of others and our faith in ourselves.
  • Combining these elements gives us a path to a cure to this curse we live with.

Now America, you are a young nation and in your short time you have grown strong and powerful. Strong in your capabilities and powerful in your influence. Look at what is the true source of your strength. Your strength historically has been your diversity. There have been many hands that have pulled the oars, tilled the fields, built the roads, the bridges, the cities.  These hands have come in many colors, they have come from many places but without any one piece this puzzle could not be made complete.

As with those hands, these hands I see raised in protest of our current societal issues are equally diverse.  It is not that we were ever all alone in this struggle, it is that there is a greater understanding of the components involved in it.  There is a greater awareness of how we must fit together, what our role in reconstructing the original founding intent and constructing a new one, a more perfect founding for a more perfect union that extends the promise of America to all its citizens 

This is a time for remembering.  We need to either remember the country we once were, or we need to remember the country we aspired to be. A more perfect Union, always looking to be a better version of us.

In the scripture Matthew 13:15, I believe I have found both cause and cure:

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

America let’s sit a moment and talk.  Sit still, while we hold up a mirror so that “you may see the inmost part of you.”


Over the last week I’ve received e-mails from three people asking me to read and respond about “what a white reporter wrote in a Georgia Newspaper.  The “forward list” on all three were quite long, it looked like a mass e-mailing of sort.  After reading the article I saw that it was not so much a news article, but a piece submitted for an editorial  in the Macon Telegraph, not long after Barack Obama was first elected President.  Each e-mail said this was a “must read and pass along,” and I totally agree.

I’m going to post it for you here in its entirety.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this.

Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia and wrote this for an editorial in the Macon Telegraph.

Andrew M. Manis: When Are WE Going to Get Over It?

For much of the last forty years, ever since America “fixed” its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African-Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, “When are African-Americans finally going to get over it?  Now I want to ask:

“When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?

Recent reports that “Election Spurs Hundreds’ of Race Threats, Crimes” should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in “Bombingham,” Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than “talk the talk.”

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.

We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent.

Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes.

Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we’re back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we’ve proven what conservatives are always saying — that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president.

But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to “assassinate Obama.”

Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, “How long?”

How long before we white people realize we can’t make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us?

How long until we white people can – once and for all – get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color?

How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior?

How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?

How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin?

How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners?

How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?

How long before we start “living out the true meaning” of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that “red and yellow, black and white” all are precious in God’s sight?

Until this past November 4, I didn’t believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don’t believe I’ll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem.

But here’s my three-point plan:

First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I’m going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.

Second, I’m going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama.

Third, I’m going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can “in spirit and in truth” sing of our damnable color prejudice,

“We HAVE overcome.”


It takes a Village to protect our President!!!

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Dr. Manis,

I appreciate you more, far more, than I can say.  How Long?  The question has been asked for so, so long.  The problem is that for so long we African-Americans have waited for someone other than us to ask the question.  For someone other than us to search for solutions.  I thank you for doing both.

Your editorial harkens back to a time when the struggle was in full force.  It was March 25, 1965 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King asked the same question, standing on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery Alabama.  This was after the successful completion of the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Let’s reflect on excerpts from his speech.

“The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. (Yes, sir)
The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. (No)
There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

“Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. (Yes)”

“I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” (Speak, sir)
Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?” (Yes, sir)

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” (Yes, sir) How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because “no lie can live forever.” (Yes, sir)
How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because “you shall reap what you sow.” (Yes, sir)”

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The fact that we are still asking that question today, 47 years later, well…!  Rev. King asked, “How Long?”  When others like you ask that question, “Not Long” may be closer than ever.  We can only pray.

Thank you again, Andrew Manis.  Thank you!


For more on race-ethnic relations search for “Wisconsin Why???” on this site.

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