I am a child of the ’60s. Along with many other people I gathered in large crowds, marched in the streets and carried signs; we protested a racist war in Vietnam. I wept as I listened to “Abraham, Martin and John”. I applauded when schools were integrated. I thought maybe we were winning, that things in my country were becoming better, and that there was a little less racism.
Now it is 50 years later and I realize things never really became better. Racism has not lessened; now it has become more popular and it has become more open! Racism now exists at the top levels of our government. It is real, it is flourishing, and it is scary. Once again I am making protest signs, this time with my granddaughter. WITH MY GRANDAUGHTER!
It is no longer enough to march, to make and carry protest signs or to write letters. It is no longer enough for ISAAC to issue statements, to promote MLK Day, a day largely ignored by the current racist administration of my country. ISAAC and the rest of us must take immediate action to address the rampant racism that exists at the top levels of our country or we will all be complicit, with racist language, racist policies, with racism. If we are complicit or silent, we are racist. And if we in ISAAC are complicit or silent, ISAAC will be racist. In addition to our marches, protest signs, letters and calls to our legislators, we need to make sure everyone we talk to and walk by is registered to vote, research who is running for public office in the 2018 mid-term election, and consider running for ourselves to be able to make a change. Many people feel “my vote doesn’t count”, but that is what has gotten us into this mess – too many people with a conscience did not vote for many good and many not so good reasons. We live in a democracy and the only way to make change is to get the majority of people to vote for people and issues that are true to our faith, our consciences and our morality. We’ve known that just sitting around isn’t enough, but now, we have just found out that passive protest isn’t enough either. This is “our watch.”
When, oh when, will people in my country wake up, when will the voices of faith in my country wake up, when will the leaders of government wake up and say, “Enough, enough!” and take action to end the sin of racism that stains the United States.
We can do something! If you are interested in actively addressing racism with fellow community members, attend ISAAC’s Anti-Racism Task Force meetings. Meetings are held the 3rd Tuesdays of the Month 6:30pm-8pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (247 W. Lovell). All are welcome!
– Dr. Larry Oppliger, Anti-Racism Task Force member from Westwood United Methodist and former ISAAC President