ESPN opinion journalist Stephen A. Smith has grown accustomed to being attacked for his opinion… it’s his job to say things that may or may not be unpopular. During a segment of ESPN’s First Take earlier this week, Smith said something that resonated with me because of what I was thinking as I watched the unrest in Baltimore on Monday.
On Monday as the events in Baltimore unfolded, I was heartbroken and saddened by what I saw happening. One of the images that I kept considering as the day rolled on was of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marching through Selma so many years ago. I thought of other pictures as well, of non-violent African-American protesters walking silently down city streets as angry white counter protesters shouted at them. Or pictures of those same African-Americans being assaulted by police, sprayed with fire houses, attacked by police dogs… but all as they demonstrated peaceably.
I know that there were race riots taking place in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s too… but the Civil Rights Movement that won was led by Dr. King Jr. and preached peace and brotherhood. That was the movement that changed the hearts of white America, that was the movement that brought about a sea change in racial reconciliation, that was the movement that really changed the world.
Today’s black community in America does have reason to be upset, but those reasons get lost when things like the Baltimore riots take place. I think that is what Stephen A. Smith was trying to get at when he said this:
Our ancestors, considering our history and what they had to go through and the sacrifices that they had to make to get us to this point, our ancestors would be ashamed of how we’re conducting ourselves. And it needs to be addressed and it needs to be stopped because I see a whole bunch of young brothers and sisters out here right now. They’re here with us. They wouldn’t act that way.
Oh, how I long for the day when our skin color doesn’t matter. When all peoples, no matter the shade of melanin in their skin, can live peaceably together without any preconceived notions.