#DividedTogether, we fall...
Written By Melissa Ashby of Allison Images
It’s Independence Day in America 244 years after its inception and it’s clear that we are anything but what we stand for. The United States is an ironic facade built on the bloody backs of beaten slaves yet proudly known as the land of the free.. I'm a white conservative evangelical and former die-hard Trump supporter and I've recently had a literal “Coming To Jesus” moment. I now realize that digging my heels in where I stand and refusing to budge only hastens the irreparable collapse of the country I love.
Over the last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that America does not offer the same experience for all its people. It's taboo to talk about politics so we're left to assume that which we don't know about people who don't think and live like us. Therein lies the problem. How can you understand something you've never experienced? How can you empathize when you wont listen?
In the weeks since the knee felt round the world, racism in America has become undeniable. Prior to the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Chauvin, I could easily write off systemic racism, white supremacy, and white privilege as left wing talking points. It's what a good conservative does after all. However, Floyd’s tragic fate forced me to see the world in a way I'd never seen it before.
As a result of my “Awakening”, I set out on a journey to find the truth, whatever it might be. Among other methods of research, I watched 13th, Just Mercy, and read Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and I took an honest look at the world around me. The truth I found is ugly and uncomfortable but it's important that we accept, embrace and understand it if we really believe we care about people.
In his letter MLK states, “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
He wrote these words 60 years ago and the same mindset in much of White America still exists in 2020. Until we realize that we have a role in ensuring our brothers and sisters of every race are heard, until we care about justice for all, there can be no real peace in this land. Unless we recognize that our indifference defines white privilege, unless we fight for the rights of all Americans, unless we are willing to walk a mile in our neighbor’s shoes, we will reap what has been sown for the last 400 years. We must begin to see our fellow citizens as family. It is not us against them, it is WE THE PEOPLE against the tyrant! We must have one another's backs as if our own lives depend on it because they do.
We pride ourselves on standing against a tyrannical government. Though tyranny may look different for different communities, if we do not take up the cause of the oppressed, tyranny wins. We must recognize the importance of caring about injustice that does not directly affect our lives and understand the devastating consequences of doing nothing.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Our indifference will be our demise. It not only perpetuates the reality for the black community in America, but it creates a space for men of ill will to thrive. It's time to wake up and get to work!
Whatever we may do this day, let us reflect on the condition of our country and recognize our responsibility to actively participate in the direction of our future since our future depends on it.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil if for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke
This photo is from a creative collaboration photoshoot by ShySpeaks & Melissa A. The rest of the photos will debut as an Editorial Feature in Urban Magazine's July Issue.