Every week it remains a struggle to try and offer some type of optimism and keep hope alive during what looks like an evolving apocalypse. We’ve somehow managed, despite a laughable regression of mayoral input to get our city at the doorstep of dulling the sting of Covid-19.
We have entered Phase One and it looks like, in the foreseeable future, we will be able to set aside our Amazon accounts and go retailing. Hey we’re being told we can even get haircuts, manicures and pedicures. Could it be we will also be allowed to get into church to thank God for still being alive? Eat on the sidewalk outside our favorite restaurants?
Promises of a vaccine are on the horizon while whispers remind us of the possibility of a vengeful return by the novel coronavirus that has all but erased life as we knew it.
And as strange as it may seem, there is yet another issue crowding our horizon with complications equal to or worse yet, than any virus could possibly be. The racial tension in this country is as palatable as the air on a day that posts 100% humidity. It is overwhelming, suffocating and inescapable.
Here in Howard Beach, we have lived through many events that have given rise to the myth that we have always been a racist community. What we are, rather, is a community like so many others, with a mixed population, living harmoniously and constantly striving to maintain the quality of life for us and our families and friends.
We certainly understand the difficulty and the associated perception when people are falsely labeled. And we also understand what happens when truth and action are distorted by the media and in the political arena.
While we are saddened by the fact that any human being would display the disregard for life that Derek Chauvin did when he murdered George Floyd, we feel that Mr. Floyd’s death has been morphed into a fuse, igniting chaos and destruction across the country. Make no mistake about it, our opinion is most clearly stated simply—it was wrong and it was murder. In fact we have not heard one opinion that differs.
But the actions that have followed it are wrong as well. For us, the most pronounced message that comes from George Floyd’s death is that in order to fix the inequalities that exist, we must recognize them and correct them. We must remain cognizant of the fact that even though the actions of uneducated, violent individuals and paid mercenaries threaten us, they are not the actions of the majority of the black community.
There is no denying that there has been inequality for black Americans for over 500 years. There is also no denying that members of their own race who exploit those facts as the wrong means to an end should not determine how we treat black people or any other race of people who deserve our respect and whom we should address as peers. The fanning of flames and rehashing things that have taken place since history first reported slavery will never serve to eliminate them and forever clog efforts to move past them.
We have to recognize the privilege that we have lived under and recognize that comes with power and with responsibility. The situation in this country is not going to go away just because we wish it would. The dirt swept under the rug is no too weighty for the floor to handle. We have to change things for the next generation and those to follow.
It is our obligation, to all races, to hold the feet of inequality to the fire. It is imperative to make sure that individuals like Derek Chauvin and all others, know that their actions are not acceptable to us and that they will be held accountable and punished. We must hold our peers responsible for the very actions that reflect dangerously on all of us and diminish the rights and the ability to live our lives under the best and safest set of circumstances.
If nothing else could come out of the pandemic, which thus far has claimed over 400,000 innocent lives, perhaps it is that when looking in the face of death, we are all, in fact equal.