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By Michael Philippsen, Contributor

You publicly and promptly decried violence at demonstrations in the spring and summer of 2020. But why the silence now? I wonder if you believe in some level of justification for the Capitol riots? The motives resonate, if not the tactics. 

Perhaps you didn’t storm the Capitol, but I suspect you’re experiencing an array of emotions with regard to not only the Presidential election but also the senate races in Georgia: anger as a result of injustice and an unfair process, fear at the loss of many things you value. I suspect your perception feels like your reality.

Calls to imagine how events would have unfolded differently had rioters been Black, claims of white privilege on fullest display, and labels of white supremacy may make your blood boil. What you’re going through cannot be fun. 

I won’t dare try to tell you how to feel. I will generalize instead. 

The emotions you’re feeling have been prevalent for people of color in the United States for hundreds of years, and rather than dismissing these emotions as a result of perceiving them as unjustified, seek to understand why fear and anger are so present. The catalysts and rationale are far different and incomparable, but nonetheless, anger and fear, regardless of the source, can feel darn similar. 

We need a little common ground badly in our nation. So here we are. 

No human likes feeling unheard or living perpetually in fear and anger, but did you open your ears, really open them, to the rationale provided by Black Lives Matter demonstrators over the course of 2020? 

Pro-Trump rioters erected a lynching deck in front of the US Capitol building on the National Mall near the National Museum of African American History before an attempted coup to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Pro-Trump rioters erected a lynching deck in front of the US Capitol building on the National Mall near the National Museum of African American History before an attempted coup to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The only way we move from division and toward unity is for you to listen. And yes, you should listen first and for the longest.What if the anger & outrage often present in communities of color is just as justified as your anger and outrage due to recent election events you wish had not happened? What if it is more justified? 

Grade school adage: those first in line go first. I’m no historian, but the stir of emotions you’re feeling right now as a result of recent election results have been felt for at least 402 years in communities of color. They’re felt because of things we pale people have heard but not known — slavery, convict lease systems immediately following emancipation, Jim Crow segregation, unequal protection of the law. Grossly unequal rights. Race massacres, arguably the worst of which was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Redlining. Okay, fine, but how long should we feel guilty? 

It’s 2021, after all. I don’t want you stuck on guilt, I want you compelled to action!

Eventually, we have to commit to learning from real history for real progress to unfold, but let’s talk present day

Go ahead and keep more of the above than you may realize, certainly unequal rights and protection of the law. 

The average Black household net worth is approximately ten times less than the average white household. 


Unless you’re an overt racist, you do not believe Black people are:

Ten times less talented, 

Ten times less hardworking, 

Ten times worse with money management, 

Ten times worse with family values and 

Ten times less committed to education? 

Sadly, all things I’ve heard from you in one fashion or another. 

If the forces behind this gross chasm are not internal (they’re not, we’re all humans programmed to achieve at high levels and solve complex problems and make unique & powerful contributions — you need different support if you think the forces are internal), they must be external.

Stop the Steal rioters stormed our nation’s Capital, chanting, “Stop the Steal, while opportunity, and too often life itself, has been taken and stolen countless times from communities of color for centuries. 

You’re angry and fearful of the world around you; communities of colors have felt these emotions for, again, centuries — with the justification that should simply never be placed in comparison to the justification you may offer for your anger.

If you believe in common humanity and believe in a free country, then there’s much work to be done. 

If you were silent during the storming of our US Capitol but not last summer, my hope and prayer is that you do the right thing: learn more about the real injustices of our country.

I don’t say this with anything but sincerity and compassion — you may no longer be mad about recent election results and events. You will be walking toward what will certainly be the right side of history.

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I’m willing to go to work listening with my whole heart out if you’re willing to first make a genuine effort to see why the anger and fear you may have now is nothing new to so many.

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2 replies on “To My Non-Black Friends Who Have Said Nothing!”

  1. I did not say nothing this time. Political violence scares me. News coverage of political violence (I’m talking ABC news) scares me. I felt less paralyzed to speak from this last insurrection compared to the riots, and action in my own city’s streets and that coverage. Is not a blanket denouncement of political violence appropriate?

  2. While beautifully written, you’re signing to the choir brother. The majority of our voting white family, friends, and coworkers aren’t listening. In fact, between 2016 and 2020, they’re listening less. Based on a Pew Research study 54% of voting whites chose Trump, while 57% chose him in 2020. It’s almost if the louder we white allies get, the more our frail skinned brothers go in the opposite direction. The difference? Black and brown voters, particularly women, changed the face of voting results. Preach on and I’ll stand beside you ever step that needs to be stepped. But as far as hope for these other brothers…..all I have is prayer.

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