It is tragic when a group of people arrive at the false belief that they are powerless. This lie is the worst form of opression because it imparts learned hopelessness. That's why in America where Black people continue to find themselves feeling hopeless our community often doesn't see the point of participating in the democratic process.
There's a convincing narrative that suggests we will never win our struggle. That our participation serves no purpose. This manifests in many ways including depressed voter turn out and a lack of voice in the public square. How is it possible to believe in justice for our community when every day we read about the Trayvon's, the Jordan's, the Emmett's and the Breonna's that never lead to justice. How can we trust our leaders to deliver justice when these horrific episodes of racial violence are so quickly and convieniently co-opted by partison rhetoric. Is there a future where employment levels, educational attainment, generational wealth, and incarceration rates will finally shed a hopeful light on the Black community.
If there is that future, and I believe there is, it begins with brutal honesty. That's why when my non African-American brothers and sisters secretly pull me aside and ask "Has it always been this bad?" I just smile and say "Oh yes, and much much worse." What I don't say to them, but want to say publically, right here to set the record straight is this: How Black Americans came to this continent is a savage crime against humanity.
The impact of this crime has been echoing through every generation in American Black and White for 366 years and that is what this nation is experiencing today. The earsplitting echo of a crime is finally caught up with it and now it is crippling the conscious of this nation and threatening the viability of it's future. The way forward is very simple, but not easy. We must reckon with this crime as a nation or perish as a nation.
How we reckon with it is a work in progress, but one thing is clear: this time, this time justice must leave an indelible mark on the systems of institutionalized racism that have been terrorizing Black Americans and hallowing out this country's moral character since it's inception. That means we must once again take up the full mantle of the civil rights era by summoning the same conviction and same determination to make freedom ring once again.
To accomplish this we must do three things... organize, organize, organize. That's where the NAACP can make a substantial impact. Founded in 1909 by a multi-racial coalition of citizens concerned about long term justice for Black Americans, this is what we do best. Organize our communities around a set of actions and ideas that establish the conditions for justice to rise and to this end the 21st century NAACP mission statement couldn't be more on point. "...to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equity of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination."
Finally, I will say, despite how this country has treated my people I love America. I believe in it's potential and our tendancy to what Barack Obama called the audacity of hope. America will never be perfect, but a belief in our perfectability is written right into our constitution and defines what it means to be a hopeful nation. The very first line tell us everything we need to do in this historic moment. "We the people, in order to provide a more perfect union, establish justice."
So please join with us, log on to pdxnaacp.org, and become a member today. Because the only way we can establish true justice, is together.
I'm E.D. Mondainé, president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP. Thank you for watching.