…the resentment that I sense from White people is, “But I didn’t do this! I didn’t do this to you and I don’t do that,” and somehow, this loss of absolute power is seen as persecution. So how do you break that down in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re blaming or attacking someone within a systemic issue?
I think it’s partly getting everybody to recognize that we are all responsible for creating societies that are just and fair to one another. It doesn’t matter who did what to whom, it matters that we deal with the carnage, the legacy, of that injury. You can’t go to Rwanda and say, “I didn’t personally participate in the genocide, so therefore I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about it.” You can’t go to South Africa and say, “I wasn’t supportive of apartheid so I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about that,” and you certainly can’t say in Germany, “I didn’t execute people in concentration camps so let’s not talk about that.” There are festering injuries, and there’s trauma, and there’s suffering—and these violations can’t be ignored by any of us, Black or White. And we have an obligation to move toward something that is just, that is fair, that reconciles us to this history. That’s how we move forward. And we don’t do it by denying the pain of that.