President’s Message- June 2020-The Perfect Storm

I send condolences to the family of Mr. George Floyd and countless others who have died before the eyes of silent Americans in towns and cities, large and small, across our great country. This time we cannot yell “kill the messenger” – he’s already dead, killed in front of the eyes of the world. No, we cannot yell “fake news” and hide behind the political office and an impotent group of legislators. Many of our political representatives, who has held public office for years with our votes, continue to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to this racial pandemic squeezing the life out of our country and the world. So, why did this happen now? How could this happen?

The world is in the grip of a pandemic. Mother Nature has forced everyone to stop. The factories are shut down, trains, ships, and planes are stilled. The highways have little or no traffic, and the shopping malls are closed. Everyone is asked to shelter in place – hold your horses. The earth is taking a long-awaited Sabbath – rest. The stage was set for a perfect storm. What will it be? My advice, in the words of Pope, is: “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain.”

A common admonition is that are two things that you don’t talk about, religion and politics. Let me add two more, race and economic oppression. These unaddressed platforms are not unique to our country; they are worldwide and continue to be the underlying seeds of oppression. Let’s not put our heads in the sand. Let’s not cover our eyes, our mouths or ears with our hands. Let’s look at the truth, speak the truth, and hear the truth. Let’s not kill the messengers (Abraham, Martin, and John). Too many times people like Colin Kaepernick have been depicted as enigmas rather than voices for change. Remember we are in the country that not only respects a symbol like its flag, but one that holds certain truths like “all men are created equal.” The flag and the national anthem do represent precious symbols, but we must understand their place with respect to the honest and truthful voice of the people. So now I say to you, Black Lives Matter (BLM).

In the middle of one of the most horrific pandemics, people are marching in the streets, chanting, “Black Lives Matter.” In the Sixties it was not just the Jim Crow lynchings that shook our country and the world but the horrific murder of Emmett Till, the bombing of our churches taking the lives of children and the sight of dogs and fire hoses being unleashed on defenseless children peacefully protesting. Likewise, the plea for justice in the death of an American Black man, George Floyd, has not gone unheard. His violent death has been seen both in our country and around the world by countless others. In the past, beatings and deaths like George Floyd’s have been ignored, covered up, and/or poorly adjudicated at the local, state and federal levels (No justice; No Peace). So, what’s different this time?

Most people are wise enough and compassionate enough today not to merely indict the policemen who are involved in this death or call for the abolishment of police departments, but to recognize that these actions are precipitated by racism. (We need the police in our society, and the actions of a few throughout history do not represent all of these men and women. However, they must be accountable for and face the consequences of their inappropriate actions.) Again, in the Sixties when Black Americans took to the streets demanding civil rights, only a few Caucasians were marching with them. Just like today, in those groups, there were violent people causing injury and destruction of property. Today across our country and around the world, there is a rainbow coalition supporting an end to racial strife. Why? Perhaps, unlike the Sixties, these world citizens know each other much better than those in the past. Relationships allow people to empathize with each other. These relationships allow them to hear, to see and to speak the truth about, and to each other. Don’t get it twisted; it is about racism. Black Lives do matter. Hopefully, after the marching and unrest there will be time for citizens across our country and perhaps around the world to sit at the table to address this hateful human condition. This will “Make America Great Again.” Work needs to be done! Kudos to peaceful protesters from all walks of life. Stay safe.

Having Our Say

The Edwardsville NAACP has a long history of working together with civic leaders, community members, businesses, and judiciaries to make our beautiful city more equitable for all. We continue to have great success in accomplishing our goals, and we invite all to join us in this great work!

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