First came the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, ensuing protests and videos of other unarmed black people around the country dying at the hands of police.
Then came white supremacist flyers delivered to some driveways in East Greenwich in June (“Earth’s most endangered species: the white race”).
Then came Sunday’s March for Racial Justice, which literally made a loop around my East Greenwich neighborhood.
This stuff is getting close to home!
East Greenwich is 92 percent white. That’s pretty pale. It’s easy to feel like we are not racist – maybe because we don’t have any race to bump up against. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 14 months, racism isn’t just white supremacist flyers. In fact, the most dangerous racism is living in a bubble where you don’t see there’s a problem.
Most of us moved to East Greenwich to live in that bubble, whether we did it overtly or not. We moved for the schools, we moved for the nice neighborhoods … we moved to be removed from the other. That’s the American way, the human way even. But it’s not the best way to live as one nation, united.
So it was good when, on Sunday in East Greenwich, about 200 people – mainly white – gathered at the Westminster Unitarian Church and marched down to Main Street and back (about 2 miles) chanting things like “What will we do for racial justice? Today we speak for racial justice.”
On Main Street. In my town.
Most of the marchers came from other places, but it was great to see many East Greenwich residents. Maybe a quarter of the marchers were from EG. That’s not a triumph. But it is a start.