“Our country has entered into a debate on race and social justice. This debate has manifested itself by protest both physical and symbolic. The protests suggest something as yet undefined by both sides is needed. What is it that needs to be expressed and how do we best go about achieving this?”
Judge Charles Williams, Circuit Court Judge, Sarasota, Fl, Civil Division
By expressing our inner feelings on race, diversity and inclusion, first emotionally, then rationally, then in a structured environment that will serve to be a central receiving facility for concrete ideas and action will be first steps in the process for the solution.
It starts with our online forums, progresses to our live panel discussions, as we exchange information, advise each other of what is already in place and what else is needed then we retreat in thought, debate and dialogue to come up with the programs, initiatives, and solutions.
These small steps on this journey as they become greater and greater through sheer numbers of participants will echo a new protest, a protest that we hope will result in positive social reform for all those who seek justice and equality.
Ed James III, Political Strategist
What we are seeing around the country aren’t simply protests, in fact calling “die ins” that have shut down highways in New York City, Boston, Oakland, Chicago, Miami, and Jacksonville “protests” trivializes the magnitude of this mass display of political resistance spreading in the hearts and minds of consciously awakened citizens in the USA. If we look at these social movements from a nuanced perspective it becomes very clear that we are witnessing a systemic uprising seeking to obliterate every vestige of oppression emanating from the insular structures that haven’t always protected the interests of all Americans. While the media jockeys to make this an “us vs. them” narrative exacerbating divisions in our country; activists on the ground are struggling to reclaim their ability to manifest their collective destiny.
As a political strategist, I often ask myself what I can do to influence public policy in a way that creates a more perfect union. From where I sit, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Rodney Mitchell, Jordan Davis and the countless other lives lost to senseless violence in this country are not just victims of racism, but victims of a system that has perpetuated their marginalization as human beings. A system that has far too often packed minority voters into compact districts to dilute the vote. Also, a system where their earning potential is significantly less even if they are equally or more qualified than their colleagues. Yet, there is still hope on the horizon.
There is hope because people of all backgrounds are finally changing the language used in the discourse on equality to recognize the humanity of people who have been “othered” for so long that their perceived inferiority has become a part of the American schema. There is hope because our public policy is slowly catching up with the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address in which he stated, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The only way for the United States of America to continue its path forward is to give its citizens the space to freely express their concerns so that all voices are heard in the policymaking process.
Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize winning Author
Racial issues are always going to be an unavoidable part of the American experience. Slavery played a critical role in the early economic development of our nation, and we eventually went to war against ourselves over it. But the Civil War did not magically bring about racial equality, as race-based violence thrived during Reconstruction and nearly a century of Jim Crow laws in the South.
As a nation, we are still trying to come to terms with the remnants of legalized white supremacy. That is why it is so important for us to objectively examine our country’s past, and art and literature can play an essential role. Acknowledging our shared history will bring a deeper understanding to the issues of race and social justice in America, and resolving to understand each other just a little better is such a worthwhile place to start.