Beinstein column: A time for blacks and whites to love one another
Race relations have always been tense, to put it mildly. And yet, finally, for the first time, the problems that plague the black community are quite similar to the problems that plague rural white communities.
Drugs, violence, children out of wedlock, a lack of good middle-class jobs — these problems are no longer black or white. They are American problems.
And when you peel back the layers, black and white cultures are actually very similar. Go to rural America and you’ll see a spate of churches. The Christian faith dominates white culture.
The same is true of black America. Go into any ghetto and you’ll see a plethora of churches. Rural America might extol the virtues of the Christianity of our Puritans, and blacks the Christianity of Martin Luther King Jr., but it’s still the same faith nonetheless.
So why is there all of this racial tension? I’d argue it often has to do with our elites playing the races off one another. Greenwich, Connecticut, really doesn’t have much in common with Rifle, Colorado. And it doesn’t want to, either — it wants to arrogate more power and wealth for itself at the expense of the white working class. And yet, it’ll often recruit candidates to play on the superficial cultural distinctions of rural America versus black America.
Farming, cheap oil, hunting — these are defining aspects of rural America that are absent from those that live in the inner cities. And yet, the deeper problems are exactly the same.
A parent in Delta, Colorado, wants a really good school for his or her child in the same way that a parent in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., does.
White parents who lost a child in Iraq felt the same exact pain that a black parent did in Vietnam.
A white man who has to drive an hour each way in a broken down car to make $11 dollars per hour at Walmart feels the same frustration as a black man who has to ride the subway and a bus an hour from the inner city to clean the movie theater in Georgetown.
And, to make it through the day, the black man and white man will often each pray to the same God for more strength and more endurance. The same is true of our Latinos and Asians.
Politically, it’s very easy to keep up the racial differences so long as white leaders use the rhetoric of Andrew Jackson or Woodrow Wilson and black leaders the language of Malcolm X or Jesse Jackson.
But, if we focus on Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., it is distinctly possible to unite the races. Both men, when read, advocated for the same goals: peace, an equal opportunity for all, and a shedding of race as a means to dole out justice or wealth. The beautiful thing about Lincoln is his words are meant for black people and the beautiful thing about King is his words are meant for white people.
The scriptures teach us, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you … I am with you alway, even unto the end.”
No nation, therefore, or race, or culture is particularly chosen. All are equal and all should be treated as such.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
“If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Let us then make the right choice and learn to finally love one another. It’s the only way.
Alex Beinstein is a millennial who grew up in Aspen, lived in Carbondale for a while and now writes from Washington, D.C. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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