America and Racial Justice-
why a moral revolution is needed now more than ever-Sula Mazimba MD MPH
We cannot get overly familiar with the intolerable images of unarmed African American men dying on flimsy grounds, and in many cases, by the hands of people ordained to protect them. African Americans have suffered disproportionately under the heavy yolk of a partial justice system. The chorus of supplications for a fairer, just and equitable society has often fallen on deaf ears. While progress has been made, more is still needed to reach the “promised land” of a racially just society. But we cannot afford to ignore these death cries any longer. These traumatic events of race relations serve as collective summons for all to move from postures of stagnant passivity and a deadening complacency, to a reasoned determination, needed to bend the “long arc of the moral universe” towards a just society. Racism has for centuries exerted its baneful influence on American society. It is precisely for these reasons that we all need to rally together to urgently extricate the malevolent grip of racism, off the tender neck of America’s race relations.
Racism constricts our humanity Racism is a monstrous ill of our times that imperils our moral souls. It is the thread that links “the present awful sum of generations of oppression”, as James Baldwin put it, to the ignoble and brutal era of slavery. The spirit operative in the dehumanization of people of color during slavery days is still the pervasive current underlying today’s racial bigotry and social injustices. The cold inhumanity, that led men to rip apart a suckling child from the breast of its mother, branding it with a hot searing iron, as a mark of personal property, is still the brute force that animates the vice of racial bigotry and intolerance. Racism plugs the ears of society to the agonizing cries of people of color for a more equitable and inclusive society. We have reached yet another crossroads that requires a clear moral campus to chart the course of racial justice. Indifference to these monumental ills plaguing our societies come at our peril. Racial intolerance constricts our human capacity to love and to know what it really means to be human. The miasma of racism drains out the dregs of compassion and empathy from the heart, leaving it cold and arid. The moral and spiritual vigor of our souls are at stake.
A moral revolution is needed
A “moral revolution”, as Dr Martin Luther King Jr put it, is urgently needed now more than ever. A collective righteous indignation against racism is needed to safe guard our societies against its corrosive effects. This is the most urgent work of today, or else we run the danger of racial hatred and bigotry being permanently codified in societal institutional structures. We need to forge new beginnings of race relations and strive mightily for a racially just society for all. The hope of America lies in its diversity, as “the land of the free and home of the brave.” In the end, the greatness of America should not only lie in the towering military might, the technological and scientific exploits, but also in an expansive redemptive moral vision that is rooted in the ideals of human solidarity and dignity, which also should be the envy of the world.
Sula Mazimba MD, MPH