Find Hope In Courage And Activism
To the Editor:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been inspired by my fellow Newtown community members who have stepped up to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement. I am proud of those who boldly and bravely shared their experiences as people of color at the Rally for Change. I am proud, too, that many of my white friends, colleagues, and neighbors are taking time to educate themselves on their privilege as white Americans and to recognize their responsibility to engage substantively in anti-racist work on an ongoing basis.
That said, I know there are also people who believe that systemic racism and the oppression of people of color are relics that died with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. There are those who believe that a country with a Black president and successful Black entertainers is a country that cannot possibly be home, too, to a deep-rooted and racially motivated hate. To erase the existence of systemic racism in this country, however, is to erase the lived experiences of people of color who have faced discrimination for centuries before recent events thrust racial bias into popular media coverage.
American ideals of freedom and equality expressed in our constitution do not guarantee that we are truly equal. Rather, they are guiding principles that should inform our decisions as we strive collectively to achieve a more perfect union. The recent murder of George Floyd, on top of countless other tragedies throughout our history, has shone a light on our failure as a nation to adequately include people of color in our pursuit of a more just society.
When people in power have failed their fellow citizens for so long and with such devastating consequences, it’s understandable why many Black men and women no longer trust (mostly white) leaders to make change within the existing political, social, and economic infrastructure. I understand why some Americans are calling for a complete reimagination of our systems; a new vision for America built on the views and experiences of a diverse spectrum of voices.
I do not know the best way forward, but as an involved member of this community I strongly believe we can do better. I am working to become a more informed, thoughtful, and anti-racist resident of this town. I hope our citizens do not get discouraged by those who disregard ongoing racism, but rather find hope in the courage and activism of those who are fighting for real change.
While I’m a member of Newtown’s Legislative Council, the opinions expressed are my own.
34 Main Street, Newtown July 22, 2020