Break Your Silence

The events of the past few days echo and amplify the struggles of centuries, and I am here to state in the strongest possible terms that justice for people of color in this commonwealth is not optional, and that black lives matter.  

In speaking with my friends and neighbors in the African-American community, two things are clear. First, that the African-American experience is like the larger American experience, in that there is a great diversity of examples of it, and it is not "one size fits all."  Second, that African-Americans - regardless of background or status or associations - are all at equal risk of being dismissed or marginalized or fetishized or objectified by a majority culture that neither recognizes their invaluable uniqueness nor holds to its own supposedly color-blind ideals.

That, it seems to me, is why the face of racial injustice takes on so many aspects, from cultural appropriation to harassment to outright murder. In the face of all of these, I feel an anger that I know can only be a fraction of what you must feel. 

I cannot and will not speak with your voice - it would be both unnecessary and presumptuous - but I will speak with mine, especially as the representative of EVERY resident of our district. From the very first day, I have said that while debate in politics is a good thing, there are some things that are not up for debate. Among these are the basic liberties and rights and dignity every human being is guaranteed by their Creator and this government. When the government fails, as it has so spectacularly in many ways and in places near and far, then I promise that I will do everything in my power to rectify those failures and amplify your voices.   

So, let me state my positions here very clearly.  

That police brutality must end is not up for debate - whether we are talking about individual officers or entire departments or an entire culture of policing. If police are not first, foremost, and exclusively acting to protect and serve, then they are failing and I will hold them to account.   

That branding advocates for equality as "terrorists" is reprehensible is not up for debate. Nothing excuses such a racist and destructive use of language, especially from an elected official, and if Commissioner Gale has an ounce of decency he will acknowledge his error and resign.

That all people can and should safely avail themselves of their rights to peaceably assemble and petition their government is not up for debate. No democracy worth the name should seek to silence lawful protest.  

That black lives matter is not up for debate. An historic legacy of ignoring that truth is no excuse to now attempt to water it down by saying "all lives matter." As we see around us every day, all lives are not equally at risk. Black lives matter. We should hear that every day, until it is so ingrained in our national character that it is as natural as breathing.

I am proud to stand with the black community. I will take a knee. I will march. And I will see you, to acknowledge that black lives matter, are valued, have dignity, deserve better. In person, across society, from the halls of government. Always, and every day. And if you should ever feel that I am falling short of that standard, I will be grateful to you for your guidance and advice. 

Nothing changes the past, but even small things change the future. Every one of us can and should take action. Join a march. Raise your voice. Vote and hold elected and appointed officials responsible, and keep them focused when they slip. Contribute whatever you can spare to a cause. Talk to your neighbors, friends, and coworkers - talk to those who disagree with you. In short, show that you really care.  

I look forward in hope that together and with your guidance and help, we can make changes that will permanently bend the arc of history.  Thank you for your understanding, and for your passion, and for your friendship.  I will do my best to be deserving of all three.