To move forward, we must come together

To the Editor:

I generally do not respond to letters to the editor but after having read Arlene Shako’s letter to the editor on June 18, 2020 [“Change must come from respect for all — not by violence], I felt I had to respond.

The term “black lives matter” does not mean that white lives, blue lives or lives of those who are not black does not matter. It is a hope, an aspiration, that black people’s lives start to matter as much as those who are not black. It is a plea from a historically oppressed people who did not come to this country willingly, but were ripped from their homes and country and enslaved, treated at best as livestock.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a response to an intentional, institutional minimization and destruction of a specific group of people. People who are black are five times as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, when compared to a white individual.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally claimed the lives of black individuals, many who were suffering from pre-existing conditions due to systemic difficulties accessing and obtaining quality health care, housing, education, and nutritious food. The movement is designed to call attention to these inequities and demand action.

Antifa is not a bad word. Antifa stands for Anti- fascism and has its roots in Germany and the United Kingdom as a response to fascist movements of the 1920s and ’30s. The fascist movement resulted in the likes of Hitler and Mussolini.

The current occupant of the White House has chosen to weaponize a group of people who are seeking to stop fascism and fuel fear by tweeting conspiracy theories that leave the misimpression that dangerous “radical leftists” are looting and causing harm to individuals and property. If you look at the individuals arrested for the crimes committed at recent protests, records show none of them are linked with Antifa.

While I am not a black American, I am an American of color. Being of color does not mean I don’t have biases. I am aware of my biases and I have to challenge myself every day to be a better person.

I also have family members, dark like me in complexion, who unfortunately, also have racist ideals. The idea that only white people can be biased, or that you cannot be biased or racist because you have a racially mixed family, reeks of white privilege.

It is wrong and incorrect to assume that only white people have the full gamut of emotions, good or bad, while non-whites do not.

Finally, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others who sought change for the better, believed in peaceful protesting, which is what is happening now. Unfortunately, there are also some who are using this moment to undermine this effort to move the criminal justice system forward.

The only way we really can move forward, is to come together as a people, without using color to define who and what we are. I urge all in the community to affirm loudly and clearly that “Black Lives Matter” to the benefit of us all.

Jaya Connors


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