By Chet Yarbrough
Tears We Cannot Stop-A Sermon to White America
Written by: Michael Eric Dyson
Narrated by: Michael Eric Dyson
Michael Eric Dyson is a graduate of Princeton who teaches at Georgetown University. “Tears We Cannot Stop” is an indictment of white America. The indictment accuses white Americans of serious crimes stemming from today’s bigotry, neglect, and murder of black Americans. Examples of police violence against black Americans, a history of ethnic isolation, forced conformity and denied equal opportunity strongly support Dyson’s accusation.
Each accusation and the evidence gathered by Dyson confront the conscience of every white American. What he writes rings of truth. The more Dyson explains, the greater is white America’s guilt. It is a message missed by white Americans because they do not live the life of black Americans. White privilege is taken for granted in America because money, power, and prestige are held by mostly white American males.
The institutionalization of racism makes black Americans afraid. Out of that fear comes distrust, anger, apathy, and isolation. Black mothers and fathers fear for their children whenever they leave home. Regardless of education, fame, or fortune, Dyson notes an honest and law-abiding black American is subject to a different set of social rules. From birth, black Americans are told by their parents not to disagree with police for fear of being beaten, arrested or shot.
Truth does not matter in a black person’s response to accusation. Most black Americans live with fear; most white Americans do not. When stopped by the police, a black American thinks–what can I do; where can I go; what can I say; who can I trust other than myself and my race? When unjustly accused, black Americans have limited recourse. Those limits are tinged with frustration, and/or anger. No wonder some feel disrespected and alone in America.
Dyson attacks pundits who suggest black Americans are their own worst enemy. Some white pundit’s argue blacks kill each other more than whites kill blacks. The argument ignores two monumental facts. One, the toll that poverty and unemployment play in poor communities; and two, the truth that whites murder whites nearly as often as blacks kill blacks.
Blacks victimize blacks because alternative ways of taking care of their families are limited by socio/economic isolation. Dyson notes that victimization is a community problem; not a black or white issue; i.e. if you live in a black community, blacks murder blacks; if you live in a white community, whites murder whites.
The real difference between black and white victimization is whites have more opportunity in America. White, mostly male, Americans write the history of America and create the rules for “democratic” governance.
Dyson encourages white Americans to become more involved with black Americans. The social disconnect between races promotes ignorance of common goals and aspirations. Who does not want to live in peace, provide for themselves and their families, raise their children to be better off than themselves? Part of the difficulty is that there is little trust between black and white Americans as is noted in the following social experiment.
Leaders in America, consciously or subconsciously, treat non-white Americans as “others”. When humans treat someone as an “other”, they become less human. Minorities and other nation’s populations become “gooks”, “spics”, “towel heads”, “niggers”; i.e. something identified as less than human. This human categorization institutionalizes discrimination. It leads to this American dilemma and to world wars.
Leaders of America, who are mostly white males, ignore the plight of black Americans. One wonders how many white Americans thank their God for not being born black. That is Dyson’s reason for concluding black Americans shed “Tears We Cannot Stop”.