Dear Team Life Remodeled,

George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery are dead because America’s fear and hatred of black men has been compounding for more than 400 years. But if it wasn’t for the cell phone footage, I’m convinced most Americans wouldn’t even have believed their murders were unjust.

I’m not writing today about whether corruption in police departments or hatred in the deep south still exist. I’m talking about all of America:

  • Our country’s history of building the United States’ economy off the backs of black slaves is undeniable. We stole black Africans, beat them into submission, raped their women, created fatherless homes by selling their children at will to other slave owners, boldly proclaimed they were only 3/5’s human, and forced them into brutalizing labor conditions that only benefited their “owners.”
  • After slavery “ended,” we enforced Jim Crow laws until 1965, in seemingly endless attempts to keep blacks far from whites and as low in society as “humanly” possible. We ensured black children would receive far lower education than whites. Even today, school districts with majority white students receive $23 billion more funding than those in school districts with a majority of students of color. “For every student enrolled, the average nonwhite school district receives $2,226 less per student than a predominately white school district.” While some may argue this simply has to do with property tax bases, it was found that predominantly white school districts located in poor areas of the country only received $130 less per student than the national average.
  • In 1934, redlining was federally enforced, which consisted of numerous laws and practices that gave tremendous power to institutions and city ordinances to make sure black people couldn’t live in “white” neighborhoods, widening the racial wealth gap exponentially. To this day, redlining practices have continued to affect homeownership rates, home values and credit scores. Unable to access conventional home loans, many black Americans must turn to predatory lenders at high interest rates.
  • Upon returning “home” to America after World War II, the United States distributed one of the largest financial incentive packages in American history, but the language of the bill ensured the more than 1.2 million black Americans who valiantly served our country in war “equally” with their white comrades would not receive the financial and educational benefits white veterans received, which was one of the most rapid wealth gap accelerators in American history.
  • While I have several white friends who disagree, I’m convinced the War on Drugs that started in 1971 has been one of the most effective ways for racist white Americans to put an extremely disproportionate number of black men behind bars. You can see the clear shift in attitudes toward drug users when white opioid addicts became widely labeled as those suffering an illness to be treated rather than dangerous enemies to be locked up. I can personally testify to unfair treatment because of my whiteness. I used drugs heavily in college and was never arrested. Once, I was driving my drug dealer’s Camaro with darkly tinted windows, while under the influence and with a gallon-sized zip lock bag full of weed sitting next to me in the center console. I took a wrong turn down a one-way street into oncoming traffic and was immediately pulled over by a white officer. The officer took a look at me and my driver’s license, and then he asked me if I went to Indiana University. I said “yes sir,” and he said “go back to school” and let me go. Today I live in Detroit, often labeled by many whites as the drug capital of Michigan because of how many black people live here. However, I’ve never seen more drugs in my life than those used by whites on college campuses, and only one of my white friends was arrested during college.

I’m convinced America still hates black men, with the exceptions of when they are entertaining “us” through sports or music. We’ve been told over and over “they” are violent, unintelligent and lazy drug addicts who should be feared and contained.

I want America to stop hating black men… but please don’t stop there, America. Please learn to LOVE black men!!! The many black men I know and love don’t fit any of the false stereotypes I’ve mentioned above, but I would’ve never experienced the beautiful relationships I have today if I’d stayed within the confines of the lies I’ve been taught.

If you’re reading this and you are white, can I ask you to do something brave? Would you be willing to spend at least 2 minutes literally in front of a mirror today to ask yourself this question: “Do I have any thoughts, ideas or feelings about black men that are less than loving?”

Personally, I still battle racist and prejudiced thoughts, ideas and feelings about black men to this very day because it is impossible to fully-erase the years of systematically racist training I’ve received in America.

I love America! And at the same time, there are American thoughts, ideas, systems, structures and laws I hate!

Lastly, the book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo has been one of the most impactful books I’ve read. If you haven’t already, would you consider reading it?

Writing this entire message today was an important part of my own grieving process.

Thank you for reading it,