MESSAGING REPRESENTATIVES

This is a letter I had received in response to a letter that I wrote to my representative. Due to privacy reasons, I will not be disclosing who it is, but I hope this encourages someone to reach out to their representative and demand a change in the system, whether it be defunding the police, reforming the police, and passing laws to making sure that police should be arrested for their acts against innocent/guilty persons. We have a voice, and it is up to us to use it.

Dear {retracted}

Thank you for contacting me regarding the need for police accountability and reform.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have exposed the institutional racism that exists in our society and criminal justice system.  Tragically, these stories follow what we have witnessed in other instances of police violence for many years, across the country and in {retracted}.  We are in the midst of the latest chapter in what is a long, American story of racial injustices that have taken far too many black lives.  The pain people are expressing with peaceful protests is real.  I see it, and I hear the calls for change.  It is clear that we must do a great deal more to address longstanding and systemic racial injustices in our country. 

An important first step is to change the culture of policing in America and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  That is why I joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing the Justice in Policing Act to fix and improve police training and practices, hold law enforcement accountable and help address systemic racism and bias to help save lives.  This legislation prohibits federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.  The bill also bans the use of chokeholds, mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras, and establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.  Furthermore, this federal reform legislation incentivizes states to adopt laws mandating independent investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths, and when law enforcement violates an individual’s constitutional rights, police would no longer be given “qualified immunity” from being held responsible for their actions.  You can read more about all the reforms included within the Justice in Policing Act here: {retracted}

Of note, policies that govern law enforcement are also made at the state and local level.  If you wish to further express your views on these policies, I strongly encourage you to also reach out to your local and state officials.  You can determine who all your elected officials are online at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

I believe that America has been awoken with the pain of carrying the wounds of racism for too long.  But we have also awoken with hope.  I see it with the diversity, both racially and generationally, of those peacefully protesting against racial injustice.  Please know I am inspired to do my part to bring about the racial justice we need in our country so that one day we may truly have liberty and justice for all.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office.  It is important for me to hear from the people of {retracted} on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at {retracted} for information on how to contact my office.

Originally published June 19

We The People

This is an essay that my friend Rachel wrote that talks about the events that are going on in America. If you want to hear more from Rachel, check out her blog!

We the People

We are all human. Humans have evolved throughout time and have become complex creatures of the earth. We have shaped the earth in correspondence to how this world shaped us. How can we shape a world that is incomprehensible to us? The answer to that question remains a mystery, but all humans on this earth have done it and are continuing to do it. Let this empowering statement inspire you to do more regardless of your race. Not only black history, but human history is now. 

Growing up as a white female in a small town has sheltered me and caused a lack of diversity in my life. Over time I have been exposed to the history of the world and the people that have impacted these changes. Much of this history regards the civil rights movement. I was repeatedly reminded of the terrible things that people have endured simply because of their skin color, and that became ingrained in my head. Although that should never be forgotten, I wish I had learned more about the revolution these people single handedly started and the strength and courage they had. This should be a more widely spread lesson to people of all races because it really shows that anything is possible with perseverance. I am continually amazed at how much the times have changed, and ever since the year 2020 started, I have begun to realize that the times have not stopped changing. 

Racism is not genetic, it is taught. It has and continues to be taught to the younger generation by adults who are supposed to be mature. If we have truly been educated correctly on this topic, then why do these injustices keep recurring? This lack of maturity is exemplified in a video of a black man being physically abused and killed by a cop who is supposed to be protecting ALL American citizens. The fact that it has taken not only this black man, George Floyd, but multiple black people unjustly being killed to call attention to the injustice and corruption in our society today is despicable. This is why I find this movement so important. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together peacefully as one and provoke much needed change. Doing this will spread love in order to heal and grow together in the present and future. 

America is the home of the brave, and to me, the bravest people are the black people in this country. Not only have they had the courage to stand up for what they believe in, but they are the ones constantly fighting for the American dream to be a reality. They have not stopped fighting for their freedom and equality. This is the most inspiring thing to me, and always will be. It shows me that my generation can be the one to change the next and not teach ignorance and fear of expression, but rather accentuate the lesson to be a big person without making others feel small. My goal is to celebrate black history and stand proud together simply as humans. I want the next generation and all the generations after that to see how determined, courageous, and brave black people are. They have defied what white people thought of them in the past and we have them to thank for so many things in our everyday lives. I don’t want to only hope, but I want to be involved in the change that needs to happen. My generation was being taught to live in the shadows and simply go through the motions to achieve the American dream, but that will not make America great again. We the people must come together to create the change that has been long awaited. Instead of fearing the diversity in our world, we must appreciate, respect, and celebrate our differences. Human rights apply to every beautifully unique human. History is not done and neither is the fight to end injustice. 

Take time to remember all of the black lives that have been wrongfully persecuted, recognize your own value and capability as a person, educate yourself and learn from the past in order to grow, and most importantly, stand by one another with love. 

WHO IS CHRISTIAN COOPER?

Christian Cooper, a black man and an avid bird-watcher, was out birding in the Ramble – a section of Central Park full of winding paths and thick greenery – when he sees a dog off its leash. This goes against the Ramble’s rules, so Christian Cooper started to tell the owner (Amy Cooper) off for having her dog off-leash. He told CNN, “that’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off-leash at all, and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds. People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.” After the two continued to quarrel, Christian Cooper started filming Amy Cooper.

In the video, Amy Cooper tells Christian Cooper that she is going to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says. Then she tells the police, “There’s a man, African American, he has a bicycle helmet. He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” While she is saying this, her dog appears to be straining and trying to get free while she tries to restrain it.

After the video was posted, Amy Cooper defended herself by saying “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.” Also, Christian Cooper accepted her apology saying, “I think her apology is sincere. I’m not sure that in the apology she recognizes that while she may not be or consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.”

My take: I do not think that she should be forgiven for her act, to be honest. After this event, she has been fired from her job, and she reports that “her entire life is being destroyed right now.” She was in the wrong and Christian Cooper had not been physical and was not demanding. She should have abided by the park’s rules and had her dog on a leash. If the officers had been similar to other officers who had murdered black people because of false accusations by white people, then Christian Cooper would be murdered. She should not be excused from her act just because of a simple mistake. Without the post going viral, would she have not realized her mistake and kept doing them? She took advantage of a toxic and deadly racial stereotype for an ephemeral gain. She knew what she was doing, as she had forewarned Christian Cooper of her intention, just how dangerous the possible outcome of her lie could have been. I’m going to open the floor for others to respond with their take on this event.

Originally published June 7

RECOGNIZING PRIVILEGE PT. 2

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I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice: I can go birding (#ChristianCooper) I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery) I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson and #BreonnaTaylor) I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride) I can have a cellphone (StephonClark) I can leave a party to get to safety (JordanEdwards) I can play loud music (JordanDavis) I can sell CDs (AltonSterling) I can sleep (AiyanaJones) I can walk from the corner store (MikeBrown) I can play cops and robbers (TamirRice) I can go to church (Charleston9) I can walk home with Skittles (TrayvonMartin) I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (SeanBell) I can party on New Years (OscarGrant) I can get a normal traffic ticket (SandraBland) I can lawfully carry a weapon (PhilandoCastile) I can break down on a public road with car problems (CoreyJones) I can shop at Walmart (JohnCrawford) I can have a disabled vehicle (TerrenceCrutcher) I can read a book in my own car (KeithScott) I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover) I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese) I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans) I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood) I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo) I can run (#WalterScott) I can breathe (#EricGarner) I can live (#FreddieGray) I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd) White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today. #BlackLivesMatter *I copied and pasted this; please do the same.* We must fight for justice. NOW. Reposted from @tyfrench ❤️

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