These are dark and perilous times for Black Americans. Make that, all Americans. The constant reminder of a blatant disregard for the lives of so many black men and women at the hands of police officers has rocked our collective consciousness.
As a father of four young black sons and one black daughter, I am devastated to witness the senseless murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Albery, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin. A generation of young voices extinguished by rash and senseless violence at the hands of police officers or those attempting to assume the role of law enforcement.
The attack on George Floyd has touched a raw nerve and aggravated a deep wound inflicted for 400 years on black people in the form of slavery oppression, discrimination, alienation, fragmentation, and isolation. This malignant pain, now exposed, has been released with a collective, ENOUGH! The Constitution reminds us that ... “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….” It is now time we make these words ring true and not hollow.
Justice demands that all marginalized people be lifted from second class status to one of equality and fairness, and that we dismantle the dysfunctional systems – whether in the courts or classrooms.
Justice, however, will not happen through violence and destruction. Burning and looting from people who count the sweat on their brow as capital in their business does not carry the day. While it may not be immediately apparent, there is hope! That confident expectation, a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown. Dr. King influenced an unclear world and led an unknown Civil Rights Movement by nonviolence and hope.
When the outcry of shock and disgust from George Floyd’s tragic death was met with profound indignation from the law enforcement community and people of goodwill across all strata of society, rich and poor, racial and cultural position, I am hopeful.
As a Member of the Legislative Black Caucus, we will continue to pursue policies and procedures that ensure not only a healthy relationship between the police and community, but also hold law enforcement accountable.
Nelson Mandela reminds us, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. Let us all be hopeful!