The following is an article by Jason Webb – a Milwaukee-based advocate of racial reconciliation, that emphasizes that real change requires more than protests and marches, but rather an everyday action of every one of us.
I am sitting at a coffee shop downtown Milwaukee where just a few hours ago these streets were lined with protesters. Black and white, young and old declaring “Black Lives Matter.” This scene has been repeated daily throughout cities around the world.
This excites me. For years I have worked together with people of color hoping for moments like this where the white community would wake up to systemic injustice. We called people to raise their voices but too often were met with silence.
But this moment has been different.
Friends that had vehemently told me that I should not be as passionate about issues of racial justice are now leading the marches. People who once insisted that we should only say “All Lives Matter” now hold up signs declaring “Black Lives Matter.” Pastors, who once told me I was being unwise on social media by talking about Michael Brown, Jr, Freddie Gray, or Eric Garner now posted daily that we should not forget the names of Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Abury, or George Floyd.
This is a change. This is good.
Protests are necessary. They force a nation towards a necessary worldview change. They force leaders to listen, even when they don’t want to. They must continue.
But what happens after the protest? For all the unity and outcry, what happens when there are no longer marches down the streets? What happens when quarantines end and people have less free time on their hands to pay attention to these matters? What happens then?
My greatest fear is that this will just be a loud moment that passes. We will look back and say, “Look, we stood up for justice. We, the white community, stood hand and hand with our brothers and sisters of color and raised our voices.” But then we will just go back to our lives as normal, thinking the issues have been solved.
And systemic injustice will continue as always.
Yet, if true systemic change is to take place, protests will never be enough. We, the white community, must commit ourselves to bridge the systemic divide. It means fighting for reform within the justice system. It means calling our police departments to different types of training and use of force. It means working for equal educational funding for kids of color in cities, who often do not have the opportunities of other students simply because of their zip code. It means closing the economic divide and providing business opportunities for men and women of color who have never played on a level playing field.
What has happened in the streets is good. But change only starts in the streets. The march must continue into boardrooms, classrooms, and courtrooms. Words without action become empty promises. This moment demands more than just words.
Let us keep protesting. But when the protesting dies down, let us begin the real work of change.
About Jason Webb
Jason Webb is a Milwaukee-based movement leader, public speaker, advocate for racial reconciliation, and an entrepreneur. His skill set includes networking, fundraising, strategic planning, leadership, merger and acquisition, recruiting, and business expansion. Mr. Webb has mobilized these skills to establish and manage churches and nonprofits and their budgets. He recently obtained a new leadership role for Great Lakes Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.