How do we get from where we are to where we need to be?
Seems that we have enough in terms of laws on the books. The Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965. The Civil Rights Act was a year earlier.
The Supreme Court started us on the all deliberate speed path toward school desegregation in 1954.
Where we’ve been for the past half-century isn’t not having enough laws.
It’s about the people responsible for seeing to it that they’re followed to the letter.
And that starts at the local level.
Eighty percent of us will vote in this year’s presidential election.
One in five of us vote in the elections that matter.
Do you even know who represents you on your city council, your county board of supervisors?
For most, they’re the ones who hire and fire the person in charge of law enforcement in your area.
It might help to know who those folks are if you want to get at the root of the problems facing us in terms of local policing.
Some localities leave the responsibility for law enforcement to a sheriff.
If you’re in one of those areas, you get to vote that person into office directly.
You should know that.
Another did you know: did you know that you get to vote for who gets to lead your local prosecutor’s office?
That person decides how criminal cases are handled where you live.
I guarantee that 99.5 percent of you can’t name that person in your locality.
You need to get to know who these people are.
And get to know who your local state legislators are. They’re responsible for things like how much money goes to your local schools, and if there’s one thing consistent across our great nation, it’s that the money that goes to local schools in minority and rural white communities isn’t anywhere near what goes to wealthy communities.
Which is how poverty spans generations.
Education is a hand up to people from low-income backgrounds.
Your state legislators need to fight more for you.
Whoever represents you in Congress, same.
The problem is so systemic that it can be daunting to think it all through in terms of how we approach things.
I’d focus on these areas – local police, local schools.
Make sure laws are enforced fairly and equally across the board, and make sure our schools are properly staffed, equipped and outfitted to get our kids ready for jobs that can lift them up.
The way we do that: we put people in public office that pledge to do that.
And then we hold them accountable.
And we push them.
No more all deliberate speed.
And that’s on us as well.
Don’t wait for the next election.
Justice can no longer wait.
Don’t wait. Advocate.
The energy that we’re seeing now in the streets at night, let’s take that to City Hall, to the PD, to the State Capitol, tomorrow morning.
And then the next morning.
And then next week.
And next month.
If we wait, and don’t advocate, the energy will dissipate.
One thing’s for sure: what we’re seeing now cannot end with people protesting on the streets and then just going back to whatever things were before.
Status quo has got to go.
Maybe not the sexiest chant you can imagine in terms of inspiration, but, not a bad guide.
Story by Chris Graham