How do we respond to 400 years of slavery or oppression of Black people and nearly 250 years of social and systemic racism in America? 

Certainly not with guilt, defensiveness, blindness, resignation or acceptance. We don’t have time for that.

Black people survived slavery, soul-crushing brutality and families being torn apart. Their bodies were mortgaged for profit, but their acceptance, rights and freedoms were denied. Despite this, they created a unique identity that transformed American culture and — through the civil rights movement — American society.

We must learn the true social and economic history of racism in America, then respond with deep listening, compassion, empathy, understanding, respect and love. Black people don’t have the same daily experiences as white people. Therefore we need to listen with our hearts to their experiences, and then our hearts will amend our intentions and responses.

Our minds have been conditioned with a bias toward racism, but we can choose to not be racists. Martin Niemoller wrote about his response to the Nazis: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. ... Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Social and economic justice are everyone’s cause. Black people continue to remind Americans of the promises in the Constitution; therefore, they are the soul of America speaking for justice, freedom and liberty.

Listen and join us to speak out against racism and social injustice to finally establish the equality of rights and privileges for all Americans.

Dennis Zimmerman

Warwick Township

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