Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist” made me think. I read it because of the community discussion about the Prince William County School Board’s recent approval of an equity statement, discussions about critical race theory, and a critical review of my own life and treatment of others.
I grew up without many labels. White Catholic-American pretty much summed things up. Recently I have acquired a few more. I am what I was born to be: a tall, cisgender (hopelessly straight), extremely good-looking (at least in my opinion), old, privileged white (actually kind of a mottled beige as I grow older) guy. I never really thought about that “privilege” thing until lately.
I have friends with all kinds of labels. Folks who are Black, brown, gay, lesbian, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, atheist, Democrat, Republican and Libertarian are welcome and have sat on my front porch and shared a cup of coffee.
I never considered myself to hold prejudices; however, I am sure a few linger somewhere in my subconsciousness. I doubt anyone of any color, face or religion can ever fully reset the predispositions they were born with or inherited as a result of the family and culture in which they were raised. We can work on those things we choose to do.
A few years ago, I interviewed the Rev. Cozy Bailey, president of the Prince William County Chapter of the NAACP. Bailey taught me something that drove my own evolving thoughts on how to treat others. I can best sum that up by sharing a few paragraphs from that column.
I always perceived the NAACP as consisting of a lot of Christian conservatives led by Baptist ministers. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that while individual congregations are free to believe, associate and teach their members a particular doctrine, they leave their religious doctrine at the church door and fight hard for anyone who is the victim of discrimination anywhere in the public arena. That’s NAACP policy.
For example, some congregations may not embrace the LBGTQ community. But the ministers of those congregations will fight to protect that community whenever and wherever any of its members are threatened or discriminated against.
Bailey repeated a quote popular among lovers of liberty: “An attack on one is an attack on all.” If we don’t defend everyone’s liberties, they might just come after you… or me… next.
“An attack on one is an attack on all.” That’s the world I want to live in. For the record, I joined the NAACP after I wrote that column.
The game is rigged against those who don’t happen to be white. It evolved naturally over the past few hundred years. Those labels help identify groups and individuals who need us all to stand up for their liberty.
I recommend Kendi’s book. He is an excellent and engaging author. His research on topics is very good. It made me “uncomfortable” in many ways. It made me think.
People deserve to live the life they were born to or choose to without discrimination, interference or persecution from others as long as they don’t hurt other people or take their stuff. If you believe everyone’s liberty deserves to be defended, consider joining the NAACP. I also recommend the American Civil Liberties Union and the Institute for Justice. They are all on my “speed dial.”
I think my membership in the NAACP has lapsed. I’ll renew it as soon as I finish this column.