It is time to face the truth. The fight is far from over, and there is still work to be done.
Racism and inequality have no place in society, and it is up to you, whomever you may be, to destroy it.
I know I have had many experiences where I was treated differently and experienced discrimination because I am black.
Having lived here all my life and received what God has afforded me, my journey as a black woman has not been easy, but it has been a blessing.
I have immersed myself in conversation with individuals within our city concerning racism and inequality. I have talked to residents, family, friends, community leaders and elected officials. We all agree that Longview has racial barriers that have caused pain. If you are black, you have experienced this pain. If you are white, you have witnessed this pain, or you have caused this pain.
Now I am writing this because I realize that if it takes a lifetime for change to occur, I probably will not be around to see it. I am 60 years old, so time could be running out for me and those who fall in my generation.
After countless conversation with others, I realize that it is my duty to get the pendulum swinging in the right direction. Prayerfully, it will swing in an upward trajectory toward change. I do not refer to talk of change or superficial change. Rather, I embrace real change. Real change may be uncomfortable, but it is very necessary. We must start with an honest dialogue and an open heart.
I also realize that my generation does not have the strength or ability needed to actively make change. We feel good and hopeful when we talk about it, but we are unable and unwilling to actually do it.
In the end, we have been cowards.
Maybe real change is too scary, uncomfortable, or life-altering. Maybe real change is not what some of us want or expect. But real change is necessary to bring our city out of the dark and into the marvelous light.
I am not completely hopeless for my generation. But I am saddened that we are incapable of seeing a bright future for the generations to come.
Since my generation is unable or unwilling to make real change, I believe that our children and grandchildren will.
They will do the work necessary to have a multicultural democracy and true equality in Longview, Texas.
I believe that millennials and the emerging Generation Z will be the change that is needed to move our city forward. I wish that I and people my age could take the lead, but we have proven to be weak and powerless in our efforts.
The generations to come, however, are a different breed. They see the differences in color and culture, and they accept and embrace them. They see and acknowledge that right is right, and wrong is an excuse to make one feel inferior or superior.
I am a proud mother of two millennials. As an educator active in my community who deeply cares about our youth, I am also referred affectionately as Aunt Nona by hundreds of young people. I have seen the caring and dedication of these younger generations. And they encourage and inspire me in so many ways. I am encouraged because the changes that are long overdue will happen because they will not settle for anything less.
I am also encouraged because these younger generations realize that it is the end of the line for inequality. They know that equal justice and equality are essential and non-negotiable. It is as necessary as the air we breathe. It is as necessary as the face mask we wear due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a pandemic that does not discriminate. As we look to protect ourselves right now, we look to a vaccine to be our solution long-term, and our scientists are working to make this happen.
Racism and inequality, by contrast, are diseases that embody the very definition of discrimination. Thank God there is a cure for racism and inequality. And in the same vein as the scientists working on the COVID-19 vaccine, our young people are working to bring real change to address these problems.
Whether we are talking about the disparities in education, housing, health care, financial institutions, infrastructure, or arrests and incarcerations, there is an antidote.
In retrospect, when I think about my C.P.R. slogan that I initiated six years ago, it is so significant right now.
On a broader scale, C.P.R. is as follows:
”To instill in the citizens of Longview a positive and Godly attitude towards humanity that exemplifies Compassion, Pride, and Respect.
Compassion: Love for one another
Pride: For our city
Respect: For all mankind, no matter the color of their skin.
And we need compassion, pride and respect more than ever.
Actor Matthew McConaughey, a Longview native, starred in the movie, “A Time to Kill.” The audience was only able to identify with this horrific act of violence when they were instructed to envision the victim as a white person. This story still resonates today.
Imagine all the lives lost violently and needlessly, some at the hands of those who have been sworn to serve and protect and others out of pure hatred.
Here are some of those who we have tragically lost: George Floyd, 46; Breonna Taylor 26; Jamar Clark, 24; Philando Castille 32; Dreasjon Sean Reed, 21; Ahmaud Arbery, 25; Botham Jean, 26; Trayvon Martin, 17; Ezell Ford, 25; Michael Brown, 18; Michelle Shirley, 39; Redel Jones, 30; Kenney Watkins, 18; Stephon Clark, 22; Laquan McDonald, 17; Tamir Rice, 12, Eric Garner, 43; Atatiana Jefferson, 28; Aura Rosser, 40; Alton Sterling, 37; Michelle Cusseaux, 50; Freddie Gray, 25; Janisha Fonville, 20; Akai Gurley, 28; Gabriella Nevarez, 22; and Tanisha Anderson, 37.
And way too many more. These were all black lives. Now imagine that they were all white.
It is time for real change. It is time to heal.