Bending the Arc

April 27, 2021

[NOTE: This week we share a personal reflection instead of a video. Our ongoing sequence of short video links will continue next week.]

Seeing Color desires to acknowledge a new moment of hope in the fight against racism. The verdict on April 20 that George Floyd was murdered by a police officer is a significant milestone in the long, ongoing fight for racial justice.

Discrimination and bias against people of color is an unresolved problem that cripples society. Racism was not abolished with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and others bent the arc of history toward racial justice but it certainly did not eliminate racism.

The contemporary widespread public outcry against racism has garnered widespread support that gives hope for a meaningful push toward racial equality. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are a few of the names that represent so many more who have lost their lives at the hand of racism. Guns and lethal force are not the only ways that people of color are dying. The combination of poverty and inadequate health care is also deadly. It is also undeniable that racism kills human potential with inadequate educational opportunities. The vision for living a productive, meaningful life meets its demise when no pathway out of poverty can be found.

Many years ago I had a psychology professor at a community college in Eastern Oregon who liked the phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants.” I have a sobering thought about whether little people like me can stand on the shoulders of abolitionists to see the deep wounds of slavery that have not been addressed. Can we join Frederick Douglas, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and so many others in a new push for racial equality and racial justice? Can we find good ways to join hands today with BIPOC activists, authors, speakers, legislators, and other public officials?

Can I gain a new understanding deep within my spirit that no race is superior to another? Will I access knowledge and wisdom by finding good ways to build relational bridges to people from other racial and cultural backgrounds?

Dan McCracken