I saw something special in this white woman when I met her at a Democratic Convention in Dallas a few years ago. She is a Christian minister but nothing like the crop that has adopted Trump as their reincarnated savior. I told the story about meeting her in my blog post titled “Charlotte Coyle is a bridge to the quasi-mythical Texas value voter.” Please read it.
I am heading to Netroots Nation 2019 in Philly next week. Though it is the largest gathering of progressives in the nation, bar none, it will likely be predominantly white as it has every year even as they discussed the racism, insensitivity, and all the ills of the Right. While there will be hundreds of your everyday activists that are working like hell, there will be the crop of ivory tower type Liberals doing a lot of talking.
And that is why I so love Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. She represents the thousands who are making a difference to make our society better by trying to live her words intrinsically. I've written about her several times as she continues to amaze. Another one of her articles popped up in my feed today titled “Confessions of a Reluctant Patriot” that is a must read in its entirety. But here are some excerpts that illustrate her well thought out sentiments that if every white American could empathetically understand, would make the work of Progressives that much easier.
From an enlightened white woman
My husband put up our flag for the Fourth of July and came back into the house singing the Star Spangled Banner. We both love our country. We’re both grateful for this nation we call home. But, on that particular day, I was surprised to realize how ambivalent I felt about the national anthem and about this flag waving to me from my front yard. Maybe my problem is with our checkered past.
Every year I cringe when we read the paragraph complaining about the ways King George “excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontier the merciless Indian Savages…”
The Founders abhorred those evil “merciless Indian Savages.”
Never mind the fact that it was Europeans who mercilessly slaughtered and displaced the Native Peoples as they took over the New World. Never mind the merciless savagery inherent in every war – even in the war for our own independence.
Even as we proclaim that “all men are created equal,” we must also acknowledge how many years it has taken this nation to grow toward the civilized understanding that “all”means ALL. And we must acknowledge that we still have more growing to do.
Yes, America (finally) turned from our original sin of slavery, but I grieve the ways we continue to allow the underlying sin of racism to skew our society. White supremacy is still very much a thing all across the USA.
Some people live out that exclusivist value with brazen, dangerous animosity. Other people live out a belief in their white privilege more politely. “Benevolent racism” I call it.
Benevolent racism is not hateful, violent racism but it still contains an attitude of discomfort or disdain whenever people speak different languages, practice different religions, wear different clothing or celebrate different holidays. It still believes that people should “stay in their place.”
The part I most love about Charlotte's prose is her resolve to do what's right irrespective of the headwinds.
This nation of ours remains a dream, a hope, an aspiration.
It is not a dream come true – not yet. Maybe not ever. But it’s still an ideal worth believing in. And it’s absolutely worth working for.
So I guess my challenge to myself is not to allow my funky ambivalence to paralyze me. Instead, I will get to work, doing whatever I can to help make this American dream a dream come true for everyone.
I will join with others to support causes that bring us together in a welcoming, inclusive community. I will write letters to my local newspaper and to my elected officials. I will blog. I will vote.
I will do whatever I can to help my little piece of America embody its ideals and grow into its dream. I will do what I can to challenge myself and my neighbors to more fully live up to our stated values of equity and justice.
We only change by engaging people. The school of thought among many is to discount those we deem deplorable. After all, most won't change, they say. I will never buy into that. There is a switch within all of us that is just waiting for the appropriate trigger. If a black Latino Caribbean former sexist homophobe can become the biggest proponent of gay rights and women equality, not as an intellectual exercise but from a fundamental change of heart, I will give that latitude to everyone on all socio-economic-racial-political issues. And it is clear Charlotte is doing the same.