As Selma opens this weekend in theaters nationwide, a controversy has erupted babout its historical accuracy, and whether then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s actions were righteous or calculated. At the same time, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, has acknowledged that he spoke at a gathering hosted by white-supremacist leaders while serving as a state representative in 2002. Oh, and a NAACP office in Colorado was almost firebombed this week, although the bomb failed to detonate.
I know this is a bold statement to make – but I’m tired of talking about racism. I’m tired of Black folks being angry. Can we talk about us and it not include white people? White Americans – rich, conservative or otherwise – are going to do what they want to do.
Ava DuVernay, Selma’s director said it best when she said to Rolling Stone: “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie; I was interested in making a movie centered on the people of Selma. You have to bring in some context for what it was like to live in the racial terrorism that was going on in the deep-south at that time.”
We have changed history. Now we have to change the conversation. Because in two very short years, we will no longer have an African-American occupying the highest office in the land. What we will have is a republican congress that is 80 percent male, and 92 percent Christian. What we will have is a Congress that does not care about the dirty laundry of our unresolved past with racism.
Malcom X once said: “The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent marching…that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless Blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody’s guess which of the “extremes” in approach to the Black man’s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first – “non-violent” Dr. King, or so-called “violent” me.”
Sounds familiar. While I’m fully aware of our discomfort, anxiety, fear, distrust and downright pessimistic view of white Americans in this country, at some point, we have to ask ourselves how are we being perceived? How are we being treated? And how are we going to change it? Our discussions about race in this country have become mired in a ‘victim’ narrative.
I’m tired of talking to my kids about how to protect themselves when in public and how dangerous it is for a Black man to be stopped by the police. I’m tired of telling my son how to place his hands on the steering wheel, how to cross the street or catch the next elevator, if getting into the first one would mean being alone with a white woman. Enough is enough. And while most of these things have happened to me at some point in my life, this has not been my entire experience.