Rodney King was supposed to be the turning point.
LAPD officers caught red-handed, on tape, beating him senseless. No way the officers could not be indicted.
Guess what happened.
The turning point that was Rodney King only allowed us to turn a complete circle. A circle that lead to Amadou Diallo. To Sean Bell. To Trayvon Martin. To Eric Garner. To Mike Brown. To John Crawford. To Tamir Rice.
Circling, ever circling around a fact of life in America: Liberty and Justice is for some, not for all.
Of course, even Rodney King was just another circle back from Emmett Till. And James Earl Chaney. And Medgar Evers. And Malcolm X. And Martin Luther King, Jr.
Circling, ever circling from a time when it was clear that a large portion of America saw Blacks as sub-human, as slaves, as property.
The calendar may say we are in the 21st Century as the Earth processes around the Sun, but in the hearts and minds of many Americans, it is still the 18th Century. To them, America has been poisoned by the continual struggle for racial equality. They still hold to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's credo, that Blacks do not have rights White men should respect. This thread of racism is so woven into the fabric of our nation, that even though it has long petered out, it simply continues to be pulled along.
"Thou shall not murder." There are no qualifiers on that sentiment, no exceptions outlined. A fundamental law of all human societies, it should know no color or creed. And yet, here we are, mere hours after a video of a cop choking a gasping Eric Garner to death could not bring about the indictment of the officer in question and we have to ask: why?
You know the answer.
You see, it's not enough that we see the ugly thread of racism and attempt to pull it, for when there are too few of us doing the pulling, we cannot hope to dislodge it. Those who need to pull are White; the profusion of other races have been pulling a great while now, but cannot make headway because the force resisting them is too strong. That strength is not because the bigoted are strong, it's because the vast majority of White people sit on the thread, inert, generating a resistance others cannot easily overcome.
Yes, you and I, we Whites, we stumble along through life wrapped in the knowledge that our history books tell us we are righteous, we have done many great things, and that we have established a nation built on Peace and Justice for a long time.
And a lot of it is lies.
Maybe lies is too harsh; more like half-truths and obfuscations. Ask any member of a Native tribe if our arrival in North America "improved" anything.
The vast bulk of White America sits upon the thread of bigotry, thinking little of it, assuming that all is right with the world. They refuse to see their place in the injustice that Blacks suffer at the hands of White police and White gun owners. The bigoted simply yammer about "Black on Black" crime, as if there were no other form of crime. A pipeline has been built to line the pockets of investors by shuttling Black children from the womb to the iron cell and there is no hew and outcry by White America.
The blood is on our hands, where we turn a blind eye to such injustices, where we take for granted how secure we are in our rights. The Black man pulled over for a traffic stop may wind up being shot by a police officer for merely attempting to get out his license; the White man is given a scolding and sent on his way. That disparity has never been more evident now, but that evidence seems to only drive many Whites to work harder to ignore it.
The change must come. The change must be led by White America, because, frankly, we are the only ones with the power to force the change. To do this, we must accept our role in the disparity. We must acknowledge our privilege and all that it buys us. We must deny that privilege, forswear it, and work to ensure that the words "Liberty and Justice For All" are more than words, but the code by which our nation is known.
It is high time, that the circle be broken.