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James Puz: There's a long way to go down the road to equality

James Puz: There's a long way to go down the road to equality

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Aug. 28, 1963

A Black man in Georgia is killed by a couple of white vigilantes; a Black man in Minnesota is killed by a white officer from an established police department. Is there any difference in their deaths? No.

Both men died as a result of overzealousness (the callous disregard for a Black man’s life).

Both men were, at their deaths, merely “suspects” in alleged crimes. And neither man, Ahmaud Arbery nor George Floyd, will get his day in court.

These two men are now just two more statistics in an ever-increasing list of statistics in the long, daily fight that African-Americans in particular must endure each day they leave their homes and jobs.

And some, like Breonna Taylor, aren’t even safe in their homes.

But in all of this heartache and social chaos, with these recent deaths (you can now include Rayshard Brooks), along with those of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and so many others who died needlessly at the hands of “peace officers,” where are the leaders of the Civil Rights protests...the Civil Rights cause?

Where are the Martin Luther Kings and Ralph Abernathys with cries of protest? Where are the new firebrand Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons to utter “fire and brimstone” where police brutality and social injustice takes another Black life?

Where’s the new generation of Whitney Youngs and Roy Wilkinses to embrace the fight of righting the wrongs regarding blatant bigotry where Black citizens and law enforcement are concerned...to take the fight for social justice and place it squarely before the grotesque faces of brutality, intolerance and indifference...three areas promoted and honed to a fine edge by an often brutal, intolerant and indifferent white society that’s too frequently armed with an often brutal, intolerant and indifferent law enforcement agency.

Our history seems to show that once the Civil Rights movement ran its course, the desire to make any further gains simply withered away.

With the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), a complacency set in, as if to say if any new problems arose, a newly “enlightened” white society would right the wrongs.

To date, we can see how well that has worked out. You can change the laws...it’s harder to change attitudes; the needless deaths of Black men, women and children at the hands of law enforcement...those sworn “to protect and to serve,” is ample proof of that.

Sadly, America through the years has become her own “Picture of Dorian Gray” or as Jesus said: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! (too many current religious “leaders,” their flocks and many other “good people”) for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and inequity.” MT 23:27,28

Is a new Civil Rights movement needed? Absolutely. Is the black fist of solidarity needed to be raised again and again? Most certainly. Will these things happen or continue to happen? Nobody knows.

But the protests that have emerged from sea to shining sea and around the globe prove things can’t continue as they are. The Black “community” won’t tolerate it and the white “community” can’t tolerate it. And there’s the problem.

America must cease to have alienated, suspicious and fearful “communities.” This nation has segregated itself into Asian, Latino...Black and white sectors that have nearly impenetrable boundaries, slowing the process of understanding and cooperation.

We, therefore, must as a nation, pick up the battle standard that symbolized the beginning of the “American community” in the days of Dr. King.

America is an army of more than 300 million souls...an army built on the foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That foundation, conceived by white, privileged men, nonetheless applies to everyone in this nation.

The concept is no respecter of people...the achievement is another matter. Thus, this army of more tha 300 million strong must see itself as the resurrection of those Civil Rights leaders of the past. Nothing less will do.

Folks, it’s 2020; we’d better get a grip on the issue of Black citizens dying at the hands of a minority of “peace officers” of all races, who, while wearing a gun and carrying a badge, express the attitudes, thoughts, feelings and prejudices of an increasingly bigoted society and who are not afraid to show it when the time comes.

The gun and the badge make these officers feel 10 feet tall as they “enforce” the laws written by The Man. In such cases, these same officers no longer represent the law...they believe they are the law.

Amy Kane, the sheriff’s wife in “High Noon,” put it this way: “There’s got to be some better way for people to live.”

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