Jun 06, 2013 - Issue 519

 BlackCommentator.com: No Right Time for the Other Battle - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - BC Columnist

Is there any such thing as a right time for justice? It appears that in America, everyone is clamoring for their piece of the justice pie…and rightfully so. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” So why is it we resist the move to right the wrongs done - and being done - to Black Americans?

I’ve seen this country, the land on which and into which I was born, pay reparations to races of people it has wholly wronged. I’ve seen this country support reparations to races and ethnicities of people upon whom it has had a hand in executing gross injustices. But when it comes to the Black men & women of American birth, the telephone line goes dead, not only among the power structure of the country, but also among its white inhabitants.

When you think of the tenacious efforts of white Southerners in stopping Blacks from voting - an American right - why wouldn’t discussion on reparations be in order? Lives lost, domestic terror and forced emigration. Reparatory action is in order, but conservatives - Black and white - evoke the “let’s move forward” mantra whenever that topic is brought up. Jim Crow laws of the 1860s set in place conditions which ail Black folks today – such as unemployment.

There will be no moving forward when the unemployment rate is so very disparate: for men between the ages of 20-24, its 11.7% for whites, 24.1% for Blacks; unemployment is at 5.7% for white males 25-54, but 11.7% for Black men in that age range. This is not to mention the rates in isolated enclaves of hard-to-hire individuals, such as the under-educated and formerly incarcerated persons.

My fellow Americans - white Americans - turn a deaf ear to the very thought of making a more just society…when it comes to race. Sure, many of my Progressive (or at least they label themselves Progressive) peers care deeply, and act on issues of global warming, irresponsible government and even unjustified military incursions, but when it comes to the injustices being exacted upon populations of Black Americans, their voices deflate to a whisper.

Young people pride themselves on being the ones to “get past” issues of racial disparity and discrimination. Though it may be true that the Millennial Generation cares less about race and gender politics than those preceding it, that doesn’t make it helpful. It’s akin to whitewashing truth. It may get us through today, but we’ll have to face the devil again tomorrow. We never run out of racist instances to remind us of the thing we failed to address yesterday.

I see all kinds of activism for all manner of worthy causes: oil fracking, wildlife preservation, environmental degradation, civil liberties, immigration reform, gay, lesbian & transgender rights - white liberals are all over those issues, but when it comes to America’s first - and longest lasting transgression, racism - they are immobilized. Funny how that happens. Is it because white libs are complicit? Or is it because they “resemble that remark?” Injustice is injustice wherever you find it, so why can’t this issue reach the front burner?

We see it in police-sanctioned racial profiling, extrajudicial killings, attack on entitlements, denial of employment opportunities. We all know it when we see it, but are beaten back by conservative commentators who direct you to just move on to the next topic. This is the next topic! Unfortunately, it was the first topic and the last topic, but we’ve simply swept it under the rug. When Rodney King was beaten before our eyes, when Henry Louis Gates was arrested, when Hurricane Katrina was flubbed, when Shawn Bell, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin were murdered, when mass incarceration was growing exponentially and continues, when Barack Obama became President, we all saw it. We just refused to address it - again.

So if now isn’t the right time to address racism, when is? I find it insulting to think we can address every other ill of the American psyche, but refuse to attack the racist nature that gnaws at America’s flesh. Yet, we attack international terrorism and domestic animal cruelty with the viciousness of a ferocious pit bull. Why, then, are we afraid to confront and dismantle racism?

Could it be because it would end the quality of life for millions who’ve passively and tacitly benefited from the heartless, brutal nature of racism? Could an end to racism usher in metaphorical New Jerusalem, where streets would be paved with gold - no more crying, no more sighing, where justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream?

The prospect sounds quite inviting, so why are Americans really so resistant to the prospect? I guess we’ll wait until the time is right, ’cause it’s obvious that time is not now.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the soon-to-be-released on-line book, “As A Condition of Your Freedom”. He is also the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.