In the late 1950's and early 1960's, there was a vibrant civil rights movement in this country. It was not an easy struggle, and far too many people lost their lives in it. But it accomplished some victories -- the civil rights laws passed by Congress in the 1960's.
Unfortunately, too many people decided then that the fight was over -- that equality had been achieved. And civil rights were then put on the back-burner. But equality had not been achieved. Racism, both individual and institutional, still existed -- and the election of President Obama made that very clear. The racists were emboldened and became more public, and sadly, one of our major political parties has used that to make political gains by embracing anti-minority policies.
But it is not the individual racists that have re-emerged. The institutional racism also seems to have gotten worse -- as demonstrated by events in our justice system and our schools (where Blacks are not treated equally). It has become crystal clear to anyone willing to look that racism in the United States not only still exists, but is thriving.
But people are starting to fight back. First was the "Black Lives Matter" movement, and now students on some college campuses have risen up to fight racism. It is only on three campuses right now (University of Missouri, Yale University, and Ithaca College), but it has the potential to spread, and I believe it will. This is a good thing. While the earlier civil rights movement involved people of all ages, much of the work of that movement was done by college students and college students will be a vital part of a new civil rights movement.
But Black college students (and Black activists in general) cannot do the job of eliminating racism alone. They can put the issue on the front pages again (as they are doing), but it will require a much broader-based movement to accomplish the goal of beating back racism. In short, it will require the mass participation of Whites (who are still a majority in this country, and who still control the country's institutions).
So, I ask my White brothers and sisters -- where do you stand? Is racism OK with you? Or do you truly believe in the dream that all citizens should have equal rights and opportunity? There is no middle ground on this issue. You either support equality or you support racism. Some may think they can avoid the issue by remaining silent, but that is a false belief. Remaining silent simply means you are OK with things as they are -- that you think inequality and racism are OK.
It is time for decent people of all races, but especially Whites, to actively join the fight against racism. It is a moral imperative -- and silence is not an option.