I never claimed to be a psychic, but whenever someone begins a sentence with, “Yeah, but…”, I know I’m about to hear or read, “…you’re not like one of those (fill in the blank).” Growing up in an upper-middle-class Long Island neighborhood, the son of a physician, it’s something I’ve heard most of my life.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched a shift occurring in our country, wondering, will this last? Will the outrage people are expressing last? Or will it, like previous cultural hurricanes, impact our societal shores, only to dissipate and get replaced by a calm apathy? (Yeah, but…)
How many people of color, walk around with a racial PTSD? People who, from an early age, had to deal with the subtleties of racial profiling? The sideways glances, and pursed lips. The taunts for having a different skin color or heaven forbid an accent. (Yeah, but…)
How many people are watching the marches and protests, thinking, nothing’s going to change? This, too, shall pass. They’re not going to defund the police. They’re not going to stop pulling me over for driving in the “wrong” neighborhood, even though I live there. (Yeah, but…)
I’m still going to have that conversation with my son. The one about the real dangers he will face in this world—based solely on the color of his skin, not the content of their character. (Yeah, but…)
Is it a double standard when protesters armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons, can block traffic, and storm State Capitol buildings, without fear of retaliation? Yet, people, holding hands, kneeling, and praying for change, are pelted with pepper balls, rubber bullets, and tear gas? Don’t they, too, have the same First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances? (Yeah, but…)
I’m tired of hearing…yeah, but. I’m tired of being made to feel like a second-class citizen in the Greatest Country in the world. By the same people stepping into tanning booths or laying out on the beach, so their skin tone can match mine. If you only knew the yoke associated with that skin tone.
Unlike the narrator in Sam Cook’s song, I wasn’t born by a river in a little tent. No, I was born in a hospital in the Bronx, and raised in Stony Brook. Yet I know, like the song, change’s gonna come, oh, yes, it will, if we strive towards excellence and challenge injustice, keeping people accountable for their actions.
As the ancient proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Let’s put an end to the “Yeah, but’s…” And let’s begin that journey towards the future…together. If you ask me, it will be worth it.
May The Lord bless you and keep you; May The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.