Singer-songwriter Mel Washington sat down with Justin Grunewald of RockPoint Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. to have a frank conversation about race in America.
For almost an hour, Washington discusses the black experience in the U.S., white privilege and how his faith plays into his views on the current moment. “It’s not that black people don’t realize that we are all created equal, we just realize that we are not all treated equal,” he said. “And what I need you to do unapologetically is say that black lives matter.”
A large part of the conversation Washington has with Grunewald is about the importance of conversations between white and black people, and how white people can use their voice to benefit the black community.
“You have a louder, bigger voice as a white male than most black men do, and there are people, especially in your sphere of influence, than will listen to you before they listen to me,” he told Grunewald. “If you have anger when somebody says to you, ‘You might be part of the problem,’ use that same anger and energy and channel it to being part of the solution.”
[content-1] Since the killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, the U.S. has seen an uproar of protests. In Charleston, protesters have gathered almost every day since May 30 to stand in solidarity and protest police brutality.
In his conversation, Washington notes the irony that many white individuals are aware of the racism in our system, yet they don’t actively combat it. “The peace, the hope that you’ve been crying about for the last week and praying for, the black community has been praying for for 400 years,” he said. He adds that he wants white people to examine themselves, find when they have perpetuated racist systems without realizing it and be willing to ask for forgiveness.
Washington suggested having open conversations to understand the problems black men and women face. “When we talk about having these kinds of conversations, especially for white people, free yourself of feeling like you have to be right. This isn’t about being right, it’s just about understanding.”
“The black community doesn’t need another statement from an organization or from an individual,” he added. “I think we want to have a conversation with you.”
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