My sincere condolence to the Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery families as well as other families who have lost their daughters and sons due to police brutality. I support the peaceful protesters who are dealing with these ongoing issues and are demanding change. Equally important, they want Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all people not just the privileged people. African Americans want change and they want it now. It is very unfortunate that we have a President who is dividing our country and feels that he has the power to do whatever he wants without any repercussions. He feels he is untouchable! We must change that through the power of our votes!
In-spite of the COVID-19, civic unrest, police brutality and racism, we must not lose our focus, which is the power of the vote. Local, County, State and National elections are coming up. It is imperative that we vote President Trump out of office in November 2020 as well as other elected officials who do not support Freedom, Justice Equality for all people. President Trump has done so much damage to himself that his re-election campaign is in a serious deep free fall now. We do not want to do anything that will help re-ignite his election campaign (i.e., looting, burning & destroying property, which is caused by outside agitators). I understand the anger and frustration. I agree, it does not seem like our voices are being heard. No matter what statistic we look at we are always impacted worse than anyone else. Yes, I agree, We Are Tired of Dying. Can this problem be fixed? I say yes!
I am going to recommend some things that we must do. This is not an exclusive list. However, it is the start which can be revised and things can be added as we move forward.
- We must vote, encourage others to register and educate people on how to vote.
- We must run for office at the Local, County, State, and National levels. We must push for diversity and representation at all levels for business, government, educational institutions, non-profits etc.
- Currently 95% of all District Attorneys and 80% of all policemen are white nation-wide. These organizations must be diversified to represent all people. This must change if we expect charges and convictions to be filed against corrupt policewomen and policemen in-order to clean-up the police department and reduce and or eliminate police brutality against Black and Brown people. Nonetheless, we must not paint all District Attorneys, policewomen and policemen with the same brush. There are good District Attorneys, policewomen and policemen too.
- We must create a plan for what we want our elected officials to do for our respected communities and hold them accountable. If they do not do what they promise, we must engage them to deliver on their promises to their constituents. If things do not change, we must either recall them or vote not to reelect them.
- If one does not already exist, we must create Police Oversight Commission Review Boards and join them. This will ensure that police are there in our communities to protect and serve the people.
- Part of the police reform should include policewomen/policemen living in the cities that they serve and complaints regarding them should be reviewed by the Police Oversight Commission Board and appropriate action taken.
- We must attend City Council meetings, School Board meetings and join various Commissions within your respected communities. We must have ongoing dialogue with our Governor, District Attorneys, Police Chiefs, Mayors, Congressmen / Congresswomen, Senators, and judges. We elect these officials and they are here to serve the people. We must insist on them cleaning up our communities, improving the quality of life and bringing business and other resources to our communities that are needed. If they do not, we must vote them out of office.
- We must interact with Head-start, Pre-school, and K through 12 to ensure that our children are receiving a quality education in-order to be successful in Junior Colleges, State Colleges and Universities. This will help them prepare for successful jobs that will enable them to provide a quality life for their families and be able to participate in the American Dream of owning a home, saving, and sending their children to college, etc.
- We must ensure that we have access to health care, affordable Housing, jobs that pay a living wage not minimum wage for adults. Job and vocational training need to be added back to high schools’ curriculums. We must insist that we do not spend more money to incarcerate our children than we do to educate them. We must ensure that our schools have the technology, resources, support, infrastructure, and well compensated teachers to provide a quality education to our children. We must provide after school programs and summer jobs for our youths.
- We must join organizations whose missions are Freedom, Justice and Equality for all people. We must work to reform our criminal justice system so that it does not continue to criminalize Black and Brown people. We must become entrepreneurs and develop Educational, Political and Economic clout within our communities. Lastly, we must tear down institutional structural racism within our country. I may not live to see it, but it must be done. I am going to help start it.
James P. Shirley
Mentor / Civil Rights / Community Activist