Where’s National Reconciliation?

by Mark Antony Rossi

My country, the United States, needs to heal. It truly needs to sit down with all aggrieved parties and find reconciliation in a televised national dialogue. But this cannot happen with ad hoc groups springing up and causing chaos through looting and burning and unlawfully occupying parts of cities. It cannot happen when such groups have agendas opposed to our system of government, i.e., capitalism. And it will never happen when these same groups and aggrieved parties who claim to oppose racism become promoters of racism and anti semitism. All of these actions are contrary to their stated goals of creating a fairer society. Nor can these behaviors be attributed to any semblance of good faith.

America has lost two major opportunities to conduct a national dialogue on the commission of slavery, the history of racism and the commitment to honor responsibility and learn to move forward.

The First time was at the close of the Civil War in 1865. After the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Reconstruction, Lincoln should have seized the opportunity for a national dialogue to make the country whole on a moral level; thus cementing the societal progress made possible in post-slavery America. Instead came the terrorism of the KKK and the legal lynching of Jim Crow laws.

The Second Time in 1964 nearly a hundred years later we passed the Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination in America. Again another important milestone in repairing a fractured society. And yet again another missed opportunity to begin a national dialogue on finishing the roadwork vital to finally reaching our Republic’s ideals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Nearly six decades after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, America has made substantial strides politically by electing our first President of color, with

choosing tens of thousands of various positions in government, corporations and the military with persons of color. Never has there been such a resurgence of racial minority achievement in the categories of employment, middle class residency and extreme upward mobility evidenced by the greatest number of nonwhite millionaires and billionaires in the history of our country.

Ironically the recent calls for societal change is not coming from the clergy nor is it screaming out from the dangerous corridors of our urban centers but rather from the most educated and most financially well endowed of the ethnic community. Yet their legitimate demands for ending immoral racism and stopping repeated illegal acts of police brutality are drowned out by mindless mob violence, senseless looting, incredibly destructive burning of buildings, useless toppling of historic statues and ridiculous edicts involving defunding police departments which sadly would negatively impact more minority citizens in a short period of time than the total incidents of police brutality in the past fifty years of record keeping.

But in this diverse mix of millionaire outrage and street protest not a single call for a American National Dialogue. Not one nonwhite political, social, religious, academic, celebrity or athletic leader has called for a historic sit-down to finally settle this question of fairness and respect that is so essential to real progress and harmony. Instead slave reparations are the bandied about as if this notion actually has healing power as if this “payoff” is going to end the disconnect between peoples and cultures as if any of this makes true sense to ask current people not responsible for past slavery to pay current people whom are not slaves.

Last I checked the math on reparations, if ever enacted, would savagely racist and deeply unfair since it would draw from the National Treasury which means money not just from white people but also from tens of millions of black people and millions more of ethnic minorities such as Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans whom have zero historical connection with the evils of slavery. America has been informed in the past five decades that Affirmative Action, Quotas, College Score Leveling, Certain College Scholarships, Community Policing, Racial Sensitivity Classes, and Minority-Owned Business Contracts were all supposed to be fair and capable methods to address disadvantages incurred by parties still trying to catch up to the American Dream.

Before I wrap this article up it should be duly noted that no one on any side or any group, Black, White, Green or Purple is advocating a National Dialogue. That fact is deeply troubling on many levels and calls into question the actions, tactics and even words used thus far are mere elements of window dressing, theatre and pure unfiltered hysteria. Saying what I just said in this environment is likely to be considered “controversial” and yet I and millions of other citizens from all backgrounds will not be convinced that defunding police will bring true racial progress. Nor will any reasonable person accept that looting a store or burning down a police station suddenly result in racial justice or any version of justice. We cannot break the law while claiming to demand lawful conduct from society. Nor can be rightfully demand racial equality while at the same time shouting racial epithets and anti Semitic conspiracy theories. All of this we need to understand going forward if we truly seeking a future free from racial double standards and rogue policing.

The blueprint for National Reconciliation has been laid out by South Africa, Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress and important members of the South African clergy such as Bishop Desmond Tutu. All active members of all sides of the struggle were brought into a court to confess in detail their exploits, their motivations, their trespasses and their crimes. Only through honest confession and reconciliation can a people find redemption and unity. This is not solely a Christian concept since the act of forgiveness is a universally accepted method to help people find solace, turn from their past transgressions and live a new life unburdened by doubt and guilt and instead start building a better world for themselves and society at large.

Why haven’t Americans actively explored this method? I cannot say in good conscience the exact reason because I simply do not know. But we will never have unity in America if continue to ignore possible pathways to cultural understanding. We cannot move forward with if we willfully deny history because it doesn’t fit the current narrative. We cannot be free of this moral dilemma with hollow gestures (statue destruction) and bumper stickers (fill in the blank) and believe these methods will result in anything other than further division. We need to sit down. We need to talk. We need to confess. We need to find real ways to redress cruel practices that harm today and tomorrow’s environment. Only through a televised, highly coordinated, fully participated, national dialogue on reconciliation do we have a chance to move together as one people under God ( truly indivisible) and finally with liberty and justice FOR ALL. We and only WE can make those words a reality.

You want to protest something: protest why we don’t have a national dialogue? Protest at city halls, state capitals, courthouses to move leaders to start exploring this unused pathway. We need a delegation to go to South Africa and learn how it’s done. Talk to the still living participants on all sides. Read through the transcripts. And learn how to adopt this to America and start the dialogue.

I’m not suggesting this will be an easy process full of joviality and clear minded perspectives. But what I am saying is even disagreements within the exploration, the framework, the execution and so forth are still powerful reminders that we are moving past mob mentality and entering a place where a better future has a brighter chance because we are talking to each other instead of throwing rocks at each other. We as a people have lost too much time by continually missing historic opportunities to seize the moment and work on our differences— now with instruments guaranteeing a national even international audience. We as a people have the potential to not only change America for the good but change the world. Let’s get started. Today.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York. He also hosts a podcast called Strength to be Human.


  1. Renee D. Burreson

    Communication is indeed sorely needed if we are to ever build a bridge over an increasingly widening gap. The only way to stop repeating history is to quit playing broken records on a machine. If we are ever to achieve change, it needs to be done through peace. Through serious discussion. Well penned!

  2. Donald Dean Mace

    Great article, Mark. You make a lot of valid points and offer a great recommendation to help begin the healing process and put an end the insanity currently gripping The United States of America. I appreciate all the research and soul-searching you put into this well written and topical article. Great job.