The message coming from black activists, leaders, and commentators is explicit:
For people of color, America is a police state.
For those of us who don’t perceive that on a day-to-day basis, it’s time to listen, and to follow the instructions our communities of color are pleading with us to hear. Listen, learn, change, speak out, do better. America *is* multi-racial, multi-cultural, a quintessentially open and welcoming project in its purest state. That it fails millions of Americans, and millions more who live here, work here, and even may wish to be American themselves, is, in essence, us not living up to the possibility of this national project.
Our communities of color are digging, fighting, working day and night to achieve what some of us take for granted throughout our lives. America demands more of us. If you believe this nation is great, it’s on you—on me, on all of us—to make it that way. Demilitarize the police, and tell political and police leaders to change that culture; ruthlessly expand education and opportunity to the communities who have less or lesser; challenge yourself to be open to others, and when you see a broken bridge, repair it.
The thing we call “America” exists only in our actions and ideas, in the way we structure this society to be and to behave. You believe this country is great? Make it that way for all of us. Never stop.
We have an extraordinary power in this country: an obligation to expand rights and freedom to others. Embrace this; make it part of who you are. Listen, learn, change, speak out, do better. This rare and flawed political experiment needs you to repair the cracks, to make it whole, to share the privilege, to be insistent that all of us have a path to the best of what it might be. Being American is a social calling, a challenge to make justice and equality pervasive and rock solid.
We live in a transformational moment, in terms of our politics and our society, in dimensions of equality and fairness, on issues of race, economics, and the environment. If you are up to the challenge—if you can be what you are called to be by others who have gone before you—if you can do that work, it’s a fascinating, wonderful time to be here. I want you to do this; I want to do this. We need each other. Now.
So show me what you got.