Updated: Jun 24, 2020
The events of this past week have weighed deeply on my mind and spirit and invoked in me what my place is as a white man running for office. George Floyd needlessly died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. What this officer did is wrong and he should be punished. Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated and it is clear we have a problem. We must hold our officers to a higher standard because they are the people we entrust to uphold the law. When the abuse of power goes unchecked, it undermines the good work of so many other police officers. But this systemic problem goes far deeper than law enforcement. This problem is at the heart of how we see one another.
When I watched the Floyd video it made me angry, but I cannot fathom the anger felt by an entire group of people that have repeatedly been victims of this kind of injustice. I listened to mothers speak of fear and worry about raising their young boys in a society that views them as criminals rather than people. My plea is that we do not allow our anger to result in the same violence that led to the injustice that happened to George Floyd and so many before him. Our great civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for peaceful civil disobedience. When we reply in kind with violence, we allow those that perpetrate hate and the injustice a means to distract and undermine our efforts for change.
These past few years, we have become more and more divided. We can’t say we like a news story, channel or publication without it digressing into a division over political ideology. If we can’t have conversation over the most trivial of things, how can we have a meaningful discussion about issues of fairness, equality and justice? Compound this division with violence and all hope for change will be lost. When we are confronted with ignorance, bigotry and violence, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. If we can practice the same principles of peaceful protest exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr. and others during the civil rights movement we will find justice.
I dream of an America where we are not marginalized by labels. I want to live in a country where being white doesn’t equal privileged, black skin doesn’t equal criminal, brown skin doesn’t mean foreign or terrorist and the native plight doesn’t go ignored. This change will not happen overnight and it will be the challenge that defines our generation. It will be a rebirth to the promise of America, a place for everyone from everywhere. It will be a labor that takes time, so we must first take a breath and then push forward. It will take leadership that doesn’t inflame hated, but ignite the fire of change.