When the top law enforcement official in the county says that racism is real and systemic it’s important to take notice. And when the District Attorney adds that the only way to solve the structural problem is through collective commitment from all elements of society, it’s demoralizing because right now people want a ‘quick fix’ to assuage the anger over racism. It took this country 400 years to get to where we are today. Racism is known as America’s original sin. Dismantling it will take generations. But the work must start now. If the pandemic taught us anything it’s that we’re all connected. Let the pandemic be a portal to a society that has transformed its transgression of racism.
What does the collective commitment that District Attorney Anthony Scarpino talk about look like? It takes varied forms, from conversations with stakeholders to concrete actions as a result of collaboration. It shows up in people assembling to peacefully support each other and promote unity like they did last Saturday at the Riverfront and the Library Plaza. Mayor Andre Rainey wants Peekskill to set an example for the rest of the world of how to feel the power of love over hate, unity over war, peace over violence and the future over the present. Those aspirations form the foundation that allows collective commitment to become self-sustaining.
Collective commitment looks like creative initiatives such as 414LIFE, a program in Milwaukee that treats violence reduction with public health principles. “Violence functions like the flu,” said trauma psychologist Terri deRoon-Cassini last September. And now that we know what destruction virus can inflict, if we try to ‘cure violence’ before it infects a community, there is a better chance to immunize against it. Collective commitment needs to come from every segment of our society if we are going to uproot the injustice. And it begins with small, intentional steps.
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small actions of kindness and love” said the fictional Gandalf from The Hobbit. Let your actions be the light that keeps the darkness of racism at bay.