by Brian Ladlee | 6 / 3 / 2020
At the time of this writing, cities and towns, large and small, across the United States and around the world are rightfully packed with protests against racism, inequality, and injustice. The recent agonizingly slow killing of George Floyd by a police officer is a national disgrace. Sadly, it was yet another of many killings of minorities, especially black Americans, by police officers that have occurred time and time again, some of which have been intentional and others through gross negligence. To add fuel to the fire, current severe problems are demoralizing American citizens, with the brunt of the weight being shouldered by black Americans and other minorities. A pandemic is sweeping across the country. More than one hundred thousand people have died in the United States alone in just a few short months while the ignorant refuse to wear face masks, even as hospitals across the country have run out of hospital beds and equipment. The economy is in an abysmal recession with 40 million Americans out of work. Hate crimes and mass shootings have increased dramatically. Domestic hate groups and foreign countries are using social media platforms to disguise themselves as legitimate Americans, disseminating lies and false smear campaigns, then boosting the reach of those lies through paid advertisements and a horde of fake social media profiles to sway American opinions and elections in their favor. In these boosted lies, the deceivers have used both overt and discreet language to promote and inflame racial divisions between Americans, inciting political and racial hatred towards one another. Hate speech and hate groups run rampant and unchecked on social media. Many of our elected politicians over the years have let old racial wounds bleed for decades. After 200 failed attempts and 65 years of trying, it looks like congress might finally outlaw lynching with the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act. Let’s hope it passes in the Senate. Those who speak out against governmental abuses of power, crimes, and injustice are dismissed as “liars” disseminating “fake news” by the uninformed, ignorant or hateful without them ever bothering to research the issue. Most of those speaking out are non-political people who genuinely care about their country and have served it well through both Republican and Democratic presidencies, without incident, until this presidency. Some are even combat veterans from the president's own party who have endured and sacrificed a great deal of horrible things for their country.
This list is just some of many more reasons why American citizens are enraged coast to coast. And how did this president decide to respond to these rightfully angry citizens? Not by offering a message of strength, comfort, solidarity, and ideas to help solve some of these problems, but by emerging from the white house to have these protesters tear-gassed so he could mosey across the white house lawn, cross the street, and take an opportunistic photo with a Bible in front of a church. Even the church’s bishop was disgusted. He was also recorded barking orders at state governors over the phone to “dominate” the streets. How long did he really think Americans would tolerate these injustices and inequalities? But what does he know about the daily struggles of the average American citizen, especially minorities? Maybe he can tell us all about it from his bunker.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, people of all races and backgrounds came together, covered in the ashes of the World Trade Center buildings, and vowed to NEVER FORGET. But we have forgotten. We have forgotten that when some of us suffer, we ALL suffer. It’s time to evolve. If we tolerate racial slurs, inequality, governmental abuses of power, and injustice, then we by extension tolerate the demoralization and terrorizing of our fellow Americans. I suppose some citizens would rather live in a fantasy world, worshiping illusions of greatness, equality, justice, opportunity, and freedom that have never equally been available to all American citizens, than face the truth. If you’re one of these people, remember that people can change, and so can you. It’s good to acknowledge the great strides we have made as a country, but not if we do so without also acknowledge the areas in which we’re failing.
It’s time. It is time to enact federal laws banning the use of slurs related to one's race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability to disparage someone. It’s time to enact federal laws that legally define and punish domestic acts of violence based on hate as terrorism. It’s time to pass the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act. It’s time to enact federal laws that set a national standard for police use of force techniques and training. Officers need to be arrested immediately if they've been accused of wrongful killings if there is supporting evidence for a criminal charge, especially video. It’s time to prepare a national stockpile of adequate protective equipment in case of sustained pandemics. It is time to pay reparations to minorities whose ancestors’ bodies were whipped and lives were destroyed while building this country. Their descendants inherited poverty and pain. It’s time to enact a federal law banning the display of the Confederate flag. It’s time to enact a federal law banning monuments to Confederate soldiers. Why? Try to imagine, for a moment, how demoralizing it must feel to walk by a statue of someone on horseback, proudly dressed in the same uniform they wore while killing U.S. soldiers so they could enslave people that look like you to toil away on their plantation. Black Americans don't need to try to imagine this. They live with it every day and are expected to look the other way. Until things change, Americans will not settle for the same false promises that have been made to them for decades and our country will continue to suffer, eventually collapsing under the weight of its own oppression.
Think about it. Then act on it by speaking out and voting for change. The United States Constitution gives all American citizens the right to assemble and peacefully protest. If you feel the need to do so, exercise it. There are pockets of racism everywhere, but the majority of police officers are on your side, even if you don’t realize it. Having come from many different backgrounds, some of them share your grievances and your experiences. They share your joy and your pain. Remember, justice also means not punishing good police officers because of the actions of corrupt officers. We need good officers now more than ever.
If you want change, find out how, when, and where you can register to vote in your state and show up to the ballot box every election day, not just the Presidential election. Do your research and cast your vote with these issues in mind for every candidate. Speaking out on social media is great, but remember, if you don’t show up to vote, nothing changes. By voting in local and state elections, you help ensure corrupt and ineffective politicians are held accountable and replaced by politicians who really care about progress. So many elections have been decided by as little as a few votes. One of those votes could be yours. Your vote is your right and your power as an American Citizen to create change. Don’t slip—too many great men and women in uniform have risked and given their lives to defend it.