Wednesday I wrote a piece for ATTN on why patience isn’t a virtue today’s young protesters need to cultivate. Change happens for those who want it now.
During his interview earlier this week with BET’s Jeff Johnson, President Barack Obama called for black youth to be patient in their fight for equality.
“You know, when you’re dealing with something that’s as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time and you just have to be steady so that you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there,” the president said.
But patience, which we’re told is a virtue, is not one necessary for fighting racism. In fact, you could argue that patience can be the enemy when comes to battling our nation’s oldest scourge.
The Civil War was the result of “patience,” of the belief that slavery needed to be handled delicately, with kid gloves, with the hope that some other generation would come along, have an epiphany and get rid of the shameful institution. Slave owners were placated and pandered to, all while the controversial practice was setting the nation on the path to a bloody war. All efforts to prevent war without ending slavery prolonged the inevitable. When there was a chance after the war to rebuild a society that matched the egalitarian rhetoric of our founding documents, northerners let the opportunity slip away. They abandoned Reconstruction, leaving freed slaves to the mercy of their former masters, who would build a system of apartheid through Jim Crow laws. The racist society that resulted from Jim Crow and segregation solidified the racist views we are still contending with today.