Racial Harmony: Who Must Change?

Liberation_PaintingThe death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, raised again the issue of freedom for the black race and racial harmony. Advocates for freedom usually talk in terms of changing the world in order to make conditions favorable to freedom. In this post I will argue that the efforts to change the world in order to establish conditions favorable to freedom will fail. A better strategy is to change people’s heart.

I saw the funeral service for Michael Brown by watching it on television. The speakers stirred the audience with their rhetoric of solidarity and resolve for change. I heard two tones in the voices that spoke. One tone would say, “The situation of black people in America is bad. The white people must do something to make it better.” The other tone said, “The situation of black people in America is bad. We, black people, must do something to make it better.” Which tone is right?

chainsBefore I answer this question, I would like to mention something about my own background. From my mother’s side, I have black blood reaching up to Brazilian slaves. My grandmother was partly black and herself a great-granddaughter of Brazilian slaves. From my father’s side, I descend from the Portuguese that went from Portugal to Brazil with the Portuguese royal family in 1808, when D. João VI moved the Portuguese court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, seeking refuge from the Napoleonic armies. In my veins, therefore, two rivers flow, carrying blood of slaves and slave masters.

I am now ready to answer the question raised, that is, “In order to give freedom to black people in America, who must change? White people of black people?” As in so many things, the best course is the middle course. So, I pick the “middle way.” I believe there is plenty of work to be done on both sides. But I caution that the work includes more than just external conditions. The bulk of the work involves internal conditions.

Internal Conditions for Liberation

butterfly_on_flowerI see three areas that need to change on the internal aspect: Ambition, pride, and hope. These three, together, are the ingredients for a thriving life. The world needs black people to thrive and to fulfill their promise. Without thriving blacks in America and in the world, we will not have world peace or world prosperity.

This is the work that people of all races must do in their own way of thinking and feeling about blacks. Blacks are not these “challenged” individuals that need a helping hand; they are equal partners. If ever we are going to solve the problems of poverty and health in the world, it will be through the mediation of the black race. This perspective comes from my own belief that Africa and South America constitute the heart of the world, as I argued in another post. (Click here for more information.)

I conclude with a quote:

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
(Excerpt from Ode on a Grecian Urn. John Keats. Online.)

Photo Credits:
Photo: Liberation
Author: CALM action
Source: http://bit.ly/1pwiszl
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Chains
Author: Sheila
Source: http://bit.ly/VXKCGt
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Butterfly on Flower
Author: David Blaikie
Source: http://bit.ly/1rHkyxY
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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