In March, I was in DC for a conference. I was able one afternoon to slip away to The National Museum of African American History and Culture. When I hit the section of the 1960s, memories flooded my brain. I slowly moved through images of the deaths of the Kennedys. I saw and heard floor to ceiling films of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Stokely Carmichael. I saw and heard the rebellion against the indiscriminate killing in Vietnam. I was not seeing it as an older woman but rather within the context of the times, within the framing as I personally experienced it. It all came back. To say what I was viewing was racism as a stand-alone ism is not what I saw, then or in the museum. It was entwined with feminism, environmentalism, and participatory democracy. There was frustration, anger and pride. There was a middle finger against the mores of our parents, our churches, and most certainly our government, often symbolized by the police. It was being a hippie, listening to music, trying out new lifestyles. For me, it was moving to Alaska to not be a “phony” as we called it. It was buying second hand Air Force trench coats from the thrift store. It was being sure that I completely understood the whole thing.
It all came back and I cried there and in the garden at the end of the tour of the museum.
When something becomes personal, when we know the person who died and loved them, there is a different quality to our awakening, our grief. When we are a step away we know this pain is coming for us someday and we are afraid. I do think that the ongoing stress of Trump, of unfairness and corruption and outright cruelty wherever we look, the sudden and inexplicable collapse of the economy due to the need to slow the spread of the virus, the loss of health, loss of lives, and the utter isolation of those few months made George Floyd’s death a tipping point.
Frankly, it’s about time. The institutions and deep-rooted racism that exists in our country need to be destroyed. Let’s face it, we have seen what has happened in West Linn, and some have extrapolated that surely whatever happened there was happening in Lake Oswego. If there are police techniques that are used throughout the United States might they not be used in Lake Oswego. Who knows when the National Guard that stood ominously on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial will march into our city. It becomes one big ball of raw emotion and confusion, guilt, and blame.
What happened to George Floyd was absolutely terrible. What happened to Breonna Taylor was absolutely terrible. Anytime our Black and Brown community members are killed at the hands of police, it is absolutely terrible. There is really nothing any of us who are on the sidelines can really say other than this is a trauma that can only heal with committed action. Our community has taken to the streets, to declare that we will accept this no more, and that Black Lives Matter.
As your city councilor, I will get facts, research, confer, and endure through all the push back until this particular issue gets resolved. I do not know how everyone who is not me experiences Lake Oswego. This is where I would like to create an advisory board where people can safely relate these experiences and leadership can act on them. We need to create a city where our community feels safe, where we lead with equity, and lead with the community.
These are just some of the constructive steps forward. Our city has not done enough. I am telling you with tears in my eyes that I am feeling the shame of a white knee on a black neck, the rejection of another’s humanity and dignity and nausea I feel that I cannot immediately fix this, make it better. I am not unaware that this man called out in his extremity for his mother.
My actions will demonstrate that by whatever means are in my power I will be a champion for justice for as long as I live. May you and your family and loved ones live safe, healthy, abundant, and peaceful lives.
Posted on 08 Jun 2020, 22:08 - Category: My thoughts