Hello my white brothers and sisters. My name is Todd “OC” Shoemaker and I am a white guy, who wants to challenge you to confront and talk about racism in America. I know most of you don’t want to discuss this issue, but we can no longer ignore it. Racism in America still exist and we must deal with it. We can no longer hide behind our gated communities in the suburbs.
I can hear the moaning and excuses. Todd, things are better in America since the Civil Rights Movement. People just need to get over the past. I am not a racist. I have several friends of color. My coworker is African-American. Good for you, but have you ever had a conversation about racism with your friends or coworkers of color? Does your church talk about racism and the effect it has on your church and community? Or do you only have those discussions when a African American man/boy is shot and killed? Ouch! I know, I am making you uncomfortable. Good! I hope reading this makes you uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable for me to write. But unless we are made to be uncomfortable, we will never take the steps to change things.
Todd, why are you so passionate about this topic? I am glad you asked. Every since I can remember, I have been passionate about civil rights in America. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a civil rights attorney. Of course that never happened, but my passion for civil rights, social justice and racial reconciliation never left me. Growing up, some of my best friends were African American. They always made me feel welcomed. More importantly, they pushed me to have real conversations about racism in America. These were not always easy conversations to have, but they helped me become the person I am today. The person I continue to strive to be. Most of the time, I just sat there and listened. I took the time to hear the pain, frustration and racism my friends of color dealt with everyday. I asked questions when appropriate. I learned about African American History. A history that I was not being taught in school. My African American friends taught me how to talk about racism and confront it. I am thankful these friends from childhood were patient with me. It is because of them that I am the person I am today. Never comfortable with the injustices I see around me. Never afraid to confront these injustices. Never afraid to have those tough conversations about racism and injustices in America. To never stop learning.
I want to encourage my white brothers and sisters to have the courage to have these tough conversations with each other, but more importantly to have these conversations with brothers and sisters of color. These conversations could be messy. That’s okay. Those messy conversations will help you and America be a better place for all of us. ~OC