Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to find words and perspective in what is the most chaotic and confusing time of our lives.
Four years ago on June 3, I was given the platform to be sports editor for the Chronicle-Tribune. With very few exceptions, I’ve loved every day covering the schools and kids in Grant County, in Marion, in my hometown.
Sports became non-existent when we first started dealing with COVID-19. Obviously, it was a necessary precaution as we only started to learn about how to best deal with a global pandemic caused by a debilitating and potentially deadly virus.
During the past week, sports has largely become trivial, almost meaningless.
A far more long-lasting pandemic reappeared with the video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Truth be told, issues of racism have been present in America since the birth of our nation; however, hate for another human isn’t something people are born with.
Hate and racism are learned behaviors. The big question is why? What drives hate? What drives racism?
I’ve seen what hate and racism looks life at different times in my life. Other than seeing the ugliness in pictures and videos, my witness to such hate has seldom been overt.
In all the instances, I cannot comprehend why it remains so prevalent in our society in 2020.
Is it as simple as having different tones of skin color? Does that breed the fear that gives birth to racism?
My guess is that’s the root cause in most instances. Even so, it blows my mind that a man can be filled with so much hate, or cowardice, that he would harm or snuff out the life of another.
Is it also indifference that has fueled the racism in our society?
It’s natural to prioritize yourself, your family and loved ones. Every one of us endures struggles, enjoys successes and makes our way through this thing we call life.
We also have to share space, share time and the great part is we get to share that with each other!
How can people genuinely not care about other humans? It’s maddening, frustrating and sad.
I’m heartbroken for people who have dealt with racism on any level. I’m also a sad for people who carry so much hate in their hearts. Carrying hate, or any negative emotion for that matter, is taxing mentally, physically and spiritually.
I believe the indifference we’ve shown one another has helped racism endure through centuries.
Our modern technology has brought hate and some of its associated violence to the forefront, and it’s no longer OK to remain indifferent.
I don’t recall when I first heard the term white privilege. I never understood what it meant or thought it applied to me at all.
That is until the last few days.
My thought was always that privilege comes with wealth, with power. It didn’t apply to a regular guy who has worked several average jobs in his life and mostly lived paycheck-to-paycheck, but it does.
I’ve learned how much of a double-edged sword social media provides since I started working at the C-T, but it’s becoming an even more polarizing outlet since the beginning of the pandemic and with all the unrest going on.
Social media allows people to paint their own narrative of a situation; it gives people a voice. I’ve long believed social media provides platforms for voices that no one should have to listen to, and I’ll take that belief to my death.
I get it, though. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects our freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to assemble, all of which are necessary if we truly value our free society.
For all its ills and evils of late, social media has definitely helped me understand what it means to have white privilege. I’ve unquestionably grown up with it and live today with it.
My traffic violations have been few over the past 35 years and my business of dealing with law enforcement officers has been minimal.
Though each time I’ve been pulled over in a vehicle it’s always given me an uneasy, kind of shameful feeling, I’ve never once feared for my life.
Never once have I gone out for a walk, or out in public, or to a ballgame or anywhere else and had an ounce of fear of being racially profiled and accosted or harassed.
I don’t understand what it means to be a black man, woman or child in America. My white privilege has allowed me to be blind, remain silent.
I can no longer be blind or remain silent. I have to use my platform as a journalist to try and raise awareness, promote peace and harmony, justice and equality.
The best way I see to promote a unified society, one that truly gives us a level playing field when it comes to opportunities and equality, is through open and honest dialogue.
We don’t have the best example of how to do that being provided by our leaders in government. One side wants to blame the other without looking into the mirror of accountability while the other side largely plays the same divisive role.
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but it seems the left and right can’t even sit down and discuss what’s good for the country, not just part of it.
I have seen some encouraging signs through some of the peaceful protests going on around our country. Law enforcement officers are walking together with protesters in unity and understanding.
Perhaps that’s where the dialogue that needs to take place is beginning. Let’s hope.
Understand, conversations may not be comfortable and will never always be agreeable, but they are necessary for growth and the well being of life as we know it today.
Not all cops are bad cops, racists and killers. I don’t understand what it means to be a law enforcement officer, either. I do understand the majority put their lives on the line to serve, protect and adhere to the principles of being a public servant every day. But not all do.
Not all protesters are rioters, creating chaos and bringing about more division instead of allowing for unity and understanding to become more of a possibility.
The year 2020 has already authored a place in history unlike any other in most of our lifetimes.
We all have a voice. We can use our ability to communicate to truly effect going in a positive direction, but only empathy, compassion and love will allow that to happen.