ALGIRE: Having the courage to love
This column is about love. And it’s about racism.
Sometimes love just isn’t enough.
When it comes to racism, sometimes what we think is love, isn’t really love at all.
Well-meaning white people, this is a message for you.
It may hurt your feelings, but I know you are mature enough to handle my message.
Please stop telling black people how much you love them if you are not prepared to do what love requires.
Love requires attention. Love does not ignore. Love wants to be present. Love has deep empathy.
Love requires honesty and commitment and sacrifice and energy.
Love is an action verb.
We cause harm when we express love verbally but withhold actions that make love real — they bring love into being.
When we truly love someone, we will sacrifice for them. We will stand up for them. We will take risks for them. We will protect them. We will do whatever is necessary to help them feel safe.
Love means putting others’ needs equal to — or even before — our own.
What does it look like for white people to truly love black, indigenous and other people of color?
Love looks beyond diversity and inclusion and asks, “Is this policy good for African-Americans?” or “Will this decision harm people of color?”
Love looks beyond the narrow lens of “Is this good for my child?” and asks instead, “Is this good for all children?”
When it comes to making the world safe for people of color, have you truly loved?
When it comes to understanding and then working to eradicate racism, have you truly loved?
What have you sacrificed to advance the cause of people of color in our community or our country?
In his book “Stride Toward Freedom,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
We are in a moment history will remember. Where will you be in that history?
Will you be the person posting pictures of your (or your child’s) one black friend and letting the social media universe know you were raised to love everybody and musing “Why can’t we just get along?” or will you be the person who is humble enough to acknowledge the power and advantages conferred upon white Americans and resolve to act in ways that benefit and support people of color?
Will you have the courage to love?
Jen Algire is the president and chief executive officer of The Greater Clark Foundation.