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A View from the Port

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A scene from a vigil held on the boardwalk on Sunday, March 31. Photo by Kyle Terboss

John F. Kennedy said, “There are risks and costs to action, but they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” The far too familiar racist violence of this past week has yet again caused shock and despair to the American public. A Black man merely asked a white woman to follow the law and leash her dog, to which she responded by calling 911, claiming to be harassed by “an African American man.”

A Black man in Minnesota is murdered by suffocation at the hands of the police. His desperate statement, “I can’t breathe,” echoed the plea of Eric Garner six years earlier. The common denominator here is each person was subjected to acts of racism and violence. Black people are overrepresented among all those killed by police. How is it that we can live in a society that continues to claim we are in shock and despair over racially motivated actions like this, yet do nothing to right the wrong?

The time has come for all of us to actually do something to change what has been a deadly norm in our country. For every time we sit idly by and watch things like this happen we are continuing to perpetuate injustice. History is as close in time as yesterday. Our only hope is to change tomorrow. Elie Wiesel has warned that those who are complacent are complicit. Do not be fooled and do not ignore that racism is real. That fact is indisputable. It is woven into the fabric of our society—an opaque blanket that keeps us in the dark and allows us to ignore the outside because we have the privilege to ignore it.

We have the power to shed light and knit together something more transparent. Something that reflects each human being’s right to equality and justice. Being unresponsive in a time like this makes it very clear what your response really is – you simply do not care for Humanity. Are you willing to concede that? Are you willing to look in the mirror and admit that nothing matters to you except YOU? Are you willing to risk someone else’s life on that fact? Inaction is safe. Inaction is comfortable. Inaction has dire consequences. Black Lives Matter. Eric Garner, George Floyd, Kendra James, Sean Bell’s lives mattered. Your actions matter. Everything we do matters.

Speak out against racism. Write letters to your elected officials demanding action. Confront your own implicit bias. Challenge your own privilege. Hold the government and police accountable. Hold yourself accountable. Become educated on racial disparities and issues. Listen. Care.

Do something … anything!

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