For the past two years, as I’ve traveled the country, spoken on college campuses, and even right here on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, I’ve frequently made the point that it is hard to know a moment in history in when you’re in it. On an average day where you are stressed about work, school, bills, your health, your children, your relationships, and everything else, it can be hard to feel like you are in a historic moment.
But after what we’ve seen from Trump’s first 11 days in office, I’m not sure I need to make that statement anymore.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, without social media, without news, without friends, without any awareness of the world we’re in, and have been doing nothing but binge watching cartoons and sitcom reruns on Netflix, then you are now keenly aware that we are living in troubling times.
You don’t need me to illuminate that point for you with slides or images or videos. You don’t need stats or infographics. You don’t need to hear the emotion in my voice or see the concern on my face. By now, if you live in this country and have a heart, it is now clear to you that we live in deeply troubling times.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If you’ve ever played a mind movie where you wondered who you’d be or what you’d do if you lived in the Civil Rights Movement – you now longer have to imagine. You are living in that moment right now. You are living in a time of heroes and villains. You are living in a time where you have to make a decision, with every fiber of your being, what side you are on.
Either you are for ethical treatment of refugees and immigrants or you aren’t. Either you are for police accountability or you aren’t. Either you see mass incarceration as a true human rights crisis or you don’t. Either LGBTQ folk deserve equal rights or they don’t. Either all people deserve equal pay for equal rights or they don’t. Either people should be paid a living wage or not.
If you think you haven’t chosen a side on any of those issues, then you actually have. If you are not actively for those things, then your silence is as responsible for where we are as nation as anything else.
If you have not yet joined a protest or a march over these past 11 days, then you no doubt know someone who has. Millions of Americans from coast to coast have joined them. What’s clear to me right now is that these protests and marches and demonstrations are not going away. They are growing. They are spreading.
What’s increasingly clear is that Donald Trump and his Chief Strategist Steve Bannon are not about to shape-shift themselves into compassionate, ethical, fair human beings. They have a long, demonstrated history of running people over. They have been offensive and crass and inhumane for decades. It’s who they are. Now that they occupy the most powerful office in the world, we see what happens when bad men get power. They attack the vulnerable among us. They sow chaos and disorder. They stack their cabinet with billionaires while removing essential, stabilizing voices from the National Security Council.
As long as our government is mistreating people, we must be outraged. We must march. We must protest. And we must prepare our hearts and minds and our schedules for the reality that where we are as a nation right now will require us to protest often – perpetually even – until we see real change happen. We’re nowhere close to that right now.
Do not be the person who watches injustice and does nothing. You are better than that. Do not be the person who had it in their heart to be an agent of change, but kept it all to yourself. This world needs you. Real people who are being targeted by this government need you. And together, let’s make sure that when history reflects on this era, that it shows us fighting back and resisting every step of the way.