The Call for Real Virtue [a piece by Ashley Reid]

May 28 Written By Ashley Reid

“Virtue knows no color line, and the chivalry which depends upon complexion of skin and texture of hair can command no honest respect.”

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, The Red Record

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

– Written by Abel Meeropol, Performed by Billie Holiday

I AM TIRED. No deep expressions. No theological explanations. Just raw tiredness. 

In the midst of a pandemic, in 2020; still in our homes, churches, schools, parks and communities, Black people in America are being murdered. Modern day lynchings where our blood is no longer simply falling on leaves and rolling down trees, but is flowing into the streets as the videos of each death fills our televisions and social media timelines like entertainment, spoken of and gasped at and forgotten tomorrow.

A people left trying to grieve the violence targeting their communities from racism and white supremacy. A people left trying to navigate their rage and find a response that will actually bring about some change. A people full of elders who have to witness the same hatred and discrimination that haunted their upbringing, haunt more generations. A people carrying and navigating the trauma of their ancestors whose bodies were left swinging and burning from trees, a people called savages and predators and yet their murderers continue to live on with no penalty, completely free. 

American patriotism and virtue screamed from the mountains and coast to coast, yet there is no real American virtue when a country chooses to remain comfortable and complacent with a track record filled with the blood of those deemed “less than”, not “fully” human.

There is no virtue when the color of one’s skin has the power to dictate the livelihood of another’s existence. There is no respect when a nation continues to standby  as a witness to injustice, and not see it as stain on their own humanity.

American virtue is the kind that finds the apology for lies and hate filled murder by white supremacy to be redemptive, but the innocence and existence of Blackness to be guilty by default.  There is no virtue in this, no goodness, no morality. The only standard being upheld is to not be Black. 

Racism is an evil standard, one that requires Blackness to be the mule of society. It’s ingrained in our power structures, cultural and social systems, hiding behind the mask of “American virtue”. 

Until America takes accountability and  responsibility for its crimes of white supremacy, there will never be any virtue to exist in this land!

Responsibility going beyond a verbal apology, it requires a change of behavior/being, and reconciliation. It requires a call to action to live into real virtue. A virtue that sees every being as being valued and worthy of their humanity. A virtue that creates accountability and change in spaces that enforce ideas and systems that determine the livelihood of someone else. A virtue that stands for the liberation, equity and freedom of ALL.  

Every belief becomes action, every action has an effect, every effect has a consequence,  and every consequence demands a response. 

If America wants to keep sowing seeds for trees to bear strange fruit, it must also accept that one day it will reap a polluted harvest that calls for the responsibility of the blood consuming its fields. A moment of shock and sadness, or shallow, promised-filled  apologies will not suffice as a response.

America must respond to the call for real virtue, or else it will fall to destruction from its own production of evil. Link to Ashley’s website

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