Reader Opinion: Systemic racism


It’s been three weeks since white police officers brutally and senselessly murdered George Floyd – Say His Name! Since then, I have wanted to do something – anything – to help. One of the early images that struck me was a sign in Minneapolis that said, “White People. Do Something.” We don’t have a very good track record in that regard. I am writing this to state simply and clearly that it is my intention to do my part, from this day forward, to in fact make the world a better place for everyone.

It was civil rights activist Angela Y. Davis who said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change.” My lack of action over the years, my silence, is both a function and a symptom of my white privilege. And I’m sorry. I am a middle-aged white male, stepping out of my comfort zone, declaring that I don’t want to be complicit any longer with racism, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and the like. I’m not going to be silent any longer.

Systemic racism is a term that has been freely used over the past few weeks. I would offer the following caution. Like “corporate ethics” – an oxymoron if there ever was one – the construct of systemic racism diffuses individual responsibility. Changing the system is possible only if we are willing to recognize that WE make up the system. We ARE the system.

So who is responsible for systemic racism? I am. You are. We all are. Let’s take off the blinders of white privilege and figure out what change can look like. We gotta start somewhere. Might as well start with me. And you. And us.

Phil Kuehn



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