The televised pictures of a policeman’s knee on the neck of an unarmed handcuffed black man, choking the life out of him, as fellow officers stand idly watching it happen held up a mirror into the soul of America in 2020. You cannot watch those pictures and the many others like it, and, like the cops, simply stand idly by saying and doing nothing.
Former President George Bush and a few other courageous Republicans are speaking out. But in many states, Republican operatives are working hard to maintain the status quo and to limit black access to the most fundamental right of all Americans—the right to vote. Senator McConnell backed by the Republican majority in the Senate, has his knee on the throat of legislation, HR 1, passed by the House to protect the voting rights of all Americans, black and white.
We won’t remove the stain and the residual effects of slavery by denying racism is still a problem nor by perpetuating the unequal treatment of people by law enforcement based on the color of their skin. The same can be said for denying equal education, equal housing, and equal medical care.
I attended segregated schools in Alabama in the 1950s when my military father was stationed there. And the University of Florida in 1960, when the football team was all white and black students were barred. We have made progress since then. But having the Supreme Court roll back the protections of the 1965 voting rights act, as they now prepare to roll back Roe v. Wade shows us that progress can be repealed by those who want to go back.
Seeing a President incapable of acknowledging that Black Lives do matter and incapable of showing the slightest empathy for those not born to wealth as he was, reminds us that we each have a say in the future direction of America.
We can stand idly by or we can act by supporting change that moves America toward its ideals instead of away from them. We can do that by voting for new leadership committed to equality, justice, honesty, fairness, and the right of everyone to vote. We can vote to join the rest of the world in providing adequate health care to those without it now.