What's Tony Thinking

To See This Continuously Happening . . .


Dominic Smith, the first baseman of the New York Mets, spoke about the shooting of Jacob Blake with a grief, a sadness, and a power that was extraordinary.You may have to scroll down a bit on the link to get the news conference with Smith, whose eyes fill with tears and who struggles to speak at all. He says, “It’s not easy to be an African American man in America.”

He’s right. And he’s right when he says, it (shooting of black men by police) keeps “continuously happening.”

So, as Jesse Jackson said today to people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, they should continue to protest until the officers who shot Blake in the back seven times are held accountable. But make your protests, said Jackson, peaceful and non-violent. Be disciplined, he urged. Because the Trump White House is eager to use any signs of violence or mayhem against you.

After the 2016 election I wrote a review of several books that undertook to explain how in the world Trump got elected and what we should do next. One of those books weighed the argument then raging among analysts. Was Trump’s election about economics, about people who have lost jobs to globalism? Or was it about race and the way that Trump played on the apprehensions of American’s about white people losing the majority status and power.

I said then that it was certainly both, but I tilted toward economic causality. If people were economically secure, I reasoned, then racism would diminish. Not vanish, but diminish. I was, I now believe, wrong. Racism is so endemic, so powerful that it trumps (sic) economics. The issue, the big underlying issue today, is white Americans feeling, and grieving, the loss of a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant culture that has dominated the nation from its beginnings.

I am reminded of Ronald Heifetz’s insights regarding “change.” The issue, Heifetz says, is not change per se. The issue is loss. When leaders describe a new and better future, most people see what they are losing. To successfully lead change you must acknowledge and address this sense of loss.

I believe that we have so much to gain from a society that honestly faces and clearly repents the stain of racism. The tears of an athlete like Dominic Smith testify to what we have to gain. How sad, how very sad it is, that we seem paralyzed, unable to respond to his words, his tears and move to a new day.


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