I have struggled to put words to the page with respect to what has been happening in our country since the brutal murder of George Floyd. 

As news outlets continue to show thousands of protesters in the streets and in parks- united in purpose, united in outrage, united in grief, united in support and united for change.

As a white woman, it is not enough for me to just show up at the rally or to chant at the marches to show solidarity. 

It is time and by the way, has always been time for us white people to speak up in the face of injustice and racism.

Conversations across dinner tables and back yards and break rooms and board rooms have to start with a good hard look at who we are as individuals, as neighbors, as co-workers as politicians. 

Good conversations cannot happen without actively listening. 

Many years on construction sites as an electrician, I witnessed the subtle and not so subtle racism aimed at my union brothers and sisters of color. It sickened me. I called people out all the time. But when all was said and done, I still had my privilege intact. I was still part of what was often referred to as the FBI (father, brother, inlaw) that made it far easier for me to get a foot in the door, while some white brothers talked about the unfairness of affirmative action.

There is so much for me to learn...for us to learn.

But here is what I know, I will not equivocate. I will not take the easy way out. I will not avoid the hard conversations.

I am an imperfect human being, I claim no self-righteousness. I only hope to continue to become a better person, and when injustice is in front of me I will stand up. And when  injustice is pointed out when I cannot see it, I will learn.

Leaders set the tone. The President of the United States has set the tone. It is not one of unity, like we saw in Ashtabula this past weekend. He does not ring the bell of freedom when he attacks Americans who have the constitutional right to freely assemble.

He sets the tone of a nation when he does not  attempt to heal but rather exacerbate the racial divide for his own gain. And those who stand in support of this President are complicit. Those who say nothing as he -just today spews support of the Confederacy. The Confederacy! The President of the United States of America.

Leaders set the tone. 

We must turn the page, make compassion and empathy be the guide.

Policies and protocols and resolutions and appointments to boards and commissions set the tone for the kind of government we want to have- that reflects our better angels. Let’s let compassion and commitment guide us and work together to heal and embrace a weary nation hungering for peace and justice.

Susan Hagan

Geneva

 

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