I want to state unequivocally, and as a City Council member, that I am against all forms of bullying and racism. I am against all supremacist groups, hate groups and any individuals that indulge them. As mayor pro tem, I am working with many segments of our community to end these despicable practices.
One cannot look at the history of our country without regrettably acknowledging that slavery was an unfortunate part of its beginning. Generations of African Americans have been severely impacted by the racism spawned by slavery. It’s precisely racism that has disadvantaged African Americans, limiting their access to education and economic opportunities provided to the rest of Americans. In my lifetime I have seen significant progress made in both those areas, but it’s still not enough. We can and need to do more. And it all starts with ending racism.
The cries against the evils of racism are now heard throughout our country. It has reached the point of one of the most impactful movements in our country’s history. I understand that the focal point today has to do with Black interactions with police. The death of George Floyd and others were tragic and needless violations of human rights and disrespectful policing. Those found to be guilty must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But this is a movement beyond just confrontations with police. This is a movement for the hearts and souls of Americans of all kinds. Do we in fact want a country where all men (people) are created equal? Do we want a country where there is opportunity for all? Do we want a country where our kids and grandkids can learn together and play together without the fear of bullying and racist acts? Of course we do!
To have that country we must be vigilant. And vigilance starts with a look into the mirror. Let us each look and ask if what we think, feel and do combats racism or promotes it. Did we tell a tasteless joke? Did we judge people on the basis of their color? Did we tolerate others when they said racist things? We must change our paradigm and the way we think. It’s not enough for us to avoid being racists, we must become warriors against racism and combat it wherever it rears its ugly head.
How do we know if our behavior is racist? Beyond the obvious, we need to ask those most impacted by racism. We need to reach out to them and commence a dialog where we listen and learn from them. We don’t determine what is racist, they do because they are the ones who are most hurt by racism.
How about each of us start by taking a personal oath, one that we commit not just to others, but to ourselves: “I will not think, feel or do racist things nor tolerate those that do.” That would be a good first step toward ending racism as we know it.
Mayor Pro Tem
(In print edition: July 22, 2020)