In 2016 one woman began a movement. It grew quickly and by January 21, 2017, more than a million women gathered to march in Washington in opposition to Trump’s illegitimate presidency. They attacked his lack of morals, his overt racism, and the fact he is a self-admitted sexual predator. The Women’s Movement did not end on that day.
There was an enormous effort which continued through the 2018 midterm elections to register women and young Americans to vote, and to encourage more women to run for local, state, and federal office. The result was history. More women were elected to office in 2018 than at any other time in history. The media misnamed the election a “blue wave” as the House was retaken by Democrats and Independents. The truth is the “wave” was “pink.”
On March 24, 2018, the “March for our Lives” happened in Washington. The event began in Parkland, Florida, when 17 students and educators were slaughtered by a single gunman who purchased a military assault rifle legally. Students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School began the movement, and the result was a protest by hundreds of thousands of American youth and their families angry about the rising number of deaths in America from gun violence. The Republican controlled senate refuses to act, and if they did, Trump has promised to veto any bill affecting our nation’s gun laws. This will change when Democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government.
One event, one moment in time is often the catalyst which begins a movement. The murder by cop of George Floyd became just that.
The protests began on May 26th in the city where he was murdered, Minneapolis, Minnesota. They quickly spread to all 50 states and eventually many cities around the world. Today, June 7, 2020 they have grown larger, and show no signs of ending.
I must note here that Trump’s failure to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has added to the numbers of protesters. Unemployment is at its highest level since the Great Depression, and millions more Americans have the time to take to the streets. That’s real “irony.”
Black Americans have faced criminal injustice on the streets and in our courts for 244 years. But the movement created by the murder of Mr. Floyd has become about much more. It has become a worldwide protest against social and criminal injustice. In every developed nation the law is applied in separate ways for the wealthy and the poor. This adds to the unequal treatment of minorities. A large percentage of America’s poor and low-income citizens are black and Hispanic.
I cannot count the number of times I read about a black man or woman, or a white man or woman whose income is below the poverty line receiving maximum sentencing for a crime. When the same crime is committed by a wealthy white man or woman, the punishment seldom fits the crime. All too often the wealthy perpetrator receives probation and experiences zero incarceration.
However, there is one major difference in the discussion of equality in our legal and law enforcement system. White parents, regardless of their wealth, are not required to teach their children how to behave in the presence of law enforcement in fear of their lives.
Not all law enforcement is racist or bigoted. However, the percentage of those who are is much greater than those in authority would like you to believe. A complete reevaluation of our nation’s criminal justice system is mandatory.
More importantly, the fact that racism remains America’s biggest problem, must be addressed by our leaders at all levels of government. Prejudice is a synonym for ignorance, and America is currently an ignorant nation. We can choose to be better: we can use our intellect and our logic to end racism in America once and for all.
Finally, a fact our old, predominately white leaders refuse to admit: diversity is America’s greatest strength, and we are becoming more diverse more quickly than anticipated by sociologists. Contributions over the last 244 years by men and women of all races, beliefs, and skin colors made America what it is today. The truth is that the result of the Civil War might have been different if General Grant had not lobbied for the addition of African American men to the Union forces. A relatively small group of bigots would destroy our nation from within.
With their leader currently living in the White House, they have become emboldened. Time for real change. We can use our strongest weapon, our votes, on November 3rd. We can become the creators of real change.
Op-ed by James Turnage
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