To the editor:
During this unprecedented time of change, let us remind ourselves that in addition to civic responsibilities we each have a personal moral code that guides us. Let’s strive always to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. The quest for equality and the reckoning of past grievances is not easy, but it has been needed for a long time and is needed now more than ever.
History has proven to us over and over again that a generational shift with strong social and political upheaval is as valuable as it is necessary. The question before us is not whether to change but how to navigate the inevitable changes that are coming our way. These changes will provide each of us the opportunity to reflect on our own values, actions and how we want to shape the future. In particular, white people need to learn how to talk to other white people about racial injustice and what they are going to do about it. We have to be better listeners and understand the invisibility of white privilege and its role in creating systematic racism.
Let us remember that symbolic actions as well as personal conduct are powerful tools to publicly display what we believe in as we aim to put our best selves forward. Printing Black Lives Matter on the street is a goodwill gesture that says we care about people of color, especially black folks, who have endured over 400 years of slavery, oppression, prejudice and brutality. Enough is enough.
A street mural should be the beginning of an ongoing conversation and platform for action. What about a large, permanent plaque that reveals the history of Black folks in our Village? The Village can declare Juneteenth an annual holiday with a parade and a banner and commit to a community-wide conversation that addresses inequality and how to fix it. Let us ask our Black brothers and sisters to organize this and ask white folks to show up and listen.
We are not born with prejudice — it is learned and it can be unlearned. In times of turmoil we look to our elected officials for leadership and guidance, and to display the courage required to shine a light on how we can grow when we truly care for each other.
Instead of what is, are we brave enough to ask, what if?
What would it feel like if we lived in a society without the hostility of prejudice? Without the limitations of inequality? Without the guilt of maintaining bias?
What would it feel like if we lived in a community that trusts its members to act with common sense for the common good?
What would it feel like if we lived, on a daily basis, in a world that celebrated the expansiveness that diversity offers?
Let us move through these challenging times with the strength of our convictions to do better, to work through what scares us, to foster equality without strings, to demand justice without compromise, to live with being uncomfortable while we strive to build a new chapter of the American dream — where everyone is treated with equality and respect.
Village of Catskill