As a community, we are in pain. As an African American within the community, I feel your pain. Witnessing the murder of Mr. George Floyd is unfortunately, not unique to the African American community. His death is another reminder of an ongoing problem within an unequal criminal justice system.
In response to this most recent unjustified killing of an unarmed African American, people worldwide are taken to the streets and are raising their voices in protest. Years of pent-up anger and frustration can be heard in their voices. Pain and distress and be seen on their faces.
This recent protest represents a legitimate frustration of decades of ongoing racism and bias throughout America. Since the British slave ship, Isabella, brought the first 150 African slaves to the port of Philadelphia in 1684, a disease called racism has continued to infect our society. A disease in which to date, we have not found a cure.
The initial wave of protest was peaceful and represented a genuine frustration of the failure to value the life or freedom of an African American in the United States. Protesters made their voices heard in an inspiring and responsible way.
Unfortunately, these courageous and selfless acts are being drowned out by the actions of a small minority who chose to resort to violence and destruction. These individuals have chosen to redirect their anger in a negative way resulting in placing the innocent at risk.
Some feel that positive change within the criminal justice system will only occur through violent protests. They are wrong, and their actions only pivot the real conversation from the critical topic of injustice within the United States. Protests are designed to bring about public awareness and positive change, not destruction.
Reform takes place through a series of actions such as peaceful protest, engaging with local political figures, and most important, voting. It is also obtained by educating community members and supporting positive activists.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio stands behind our community and will support any positive efforts to bring about reform. As a community of one, I know there is nothing we cannot accomplish. With unity comes strength, with strength, comes power!
Dr. Marvin Whitfield