For the record, I’m not calling Trump a racist. Nor am I labeling BLM that tag either. But, I am warning all of us, including myself, we should use that term wisely. Especially right now.
There is no doubt that Black Lives Matter has woken up the world. Some love it. Others hate it. The reality is, one must accept it.
Those three words, which were once associated with police brutality, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Brown, and recently, even now George Floyd no longer mean the same. Not at all. They represent something so much grander, so much more meaningful and so much more frightening, for some. These three words mean change. They represent serious structural arrangements worldwide.
Some claim angrily, Black Lives Matter also represents urban warfare, violence, the toppling of monuments, and even looting. For those who want to believe this is the message, go ahead, do so. Indeed, I have heard some BLM statements that have disturbed me, just as some of us were fearful when we heard Angela Davis or Rap Brown many decades ago. This is going to happen because this movement, heard in corporate offices, making its way into movie theaters, hitting on cable news, resonating in our schools, found on the streets—around the world, amount to transformation. Actually perhaps more than that, a social revolution.
Some will embrace the tidal wave. Perhaps out of guilt. Or, maybe people believe the time has come and the opportunity is right. Others will not stand with open hands. Instead, they will see broken confederate monuments, destruction of their heritage, cancellation of street signs, of cereal boxes, of movies--all as a sign that the world is not right. Hopefully, all of us understand how they feel. They are scared and angry. And the winds of change tear into their souls. Their identities and the world as they have always known it, are at risk.
Others feel exalted. They have felt the pains of racial discrimination. They have known that they are viewed differently—by police; By the corporate board rooms; By the courts.
We are at a tipping point, especially with the elections around the corner. We can seize the tender moment. Yet, it will take cooperation, patience, a more quiet voice, and above all, with fewer threats. Those who are angry and marching in the streets can speak with hope. they can change the monument landscape legally and civilly. They can reap the benefits of a world wanting the end of arbitrary differences based upon the color of the skin.
Of all the people in the world who can set this change on the right course is the current President of the United States. Instead of tweeting out videos saluting white power, or images of blacks slugging innocent whites, or using labels such as “the mob”, or talking about shooting rioters, Donald Trump can really change the world right now. In doing so, he might even change the outcome of his re-election to his benefit.
He can take that high road. Instead of proclaiming himself as the greatest President for African Americans that ever existed, he can become it. Trump can literally get in front of the march and show that he understands the moment. He can listen. He can have an honest dialogue with those who cry within. He can feel their pain.
Yes, he can try to feel their pain.
Donald Trump can do a George Wallace. After throwing out race-baits, he can dig and search his soul. True, he might lose some or even many in his base. But, in doing so, he can be the healer, rather than the divider. He can show that the world is not about him, that there is a cause more powerful than his ambitions. He can try, really try, by his words and his deeds, to bring the country together.
In doing so, he might even be Presidential.