We believe that it is the God-given obligation of everyone to be responsible for the lives of their family members, neighbors, friends and associates.
Unfortunately, in America, over the past decades, we have lost the importance of the communication link between our lives and the lives of others. We are far too comfortable in believing that it is not our responsibility to look out for our neighbors. There is a tendency to believe that people who are indiscriminately killed in our country are victims of their own professed weaknesses—be it poverty, mental illness, where they reside or, of course, their color.
Recently, our nation has experienced a dramatic uptick in the rash of mass killings and indiscriminate shootings, etc. We regularly choose to look at each one of them on an individual basis as opposed to seeking the root causes.
Right-wing conservatives, many with or many more without badges, are frequently the ones pulling the trigger. We too readily accept it when the gunman is white and shoots a person of color but find it hard to accept when the same gunman randomly kills multiple persons, especially when the persons killed are not of color.
Far too often, the shooters, many with mental deficits, profess to be ultra-conservatives and hide behind the Confederate flag or other right-wing dogma because they do not have a true sense of their own history and purpose. It is interesting that most of the shooters, with or without badges, do not value the lives of others, as they profess to do in their warped political philosophies.
We conveniently look at crime among people of color and perceive it to be “color on color crime” when in reality it is mainly “poverty on poverty crime.” We must turn things around before our nation truly falls apart, and we are already close to the precipice whether we wish to believe it or not.
We can and must establish a greater sense of moral purpose that reflects what America is supposed to stand for. How can it be that our nation, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, can boast that it currently has approximately 25 percent of the entire world’s prison population? It is difficult for any of us to fathom that 1 in 99 adults is currently living behind bars in the United States. Also, that 1 in 31 adults (7.2 million) are living under some form of correctional control counting prison, jail, parole and probation populations.
In America, our criminal justice system, which should keep communities safe and treat all people fairly regardless of the color of their skin, doesn’t, and unfortunately, justice is more often measured and delivered according to the size of one’s bank accounts or one’s address. When we look at the never ending and ever growing loss of lives on an ongoing basis throughout America—most recently in places such as Newtown, Conn., Charleston, S.C., Ferguson, Mo., Chattanooga, Tenn., Aurora, Colo., South Central Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and, of course, the South Bronx, Bed-Stuy, South Jamaica, Staten Island and beyond—it is indeed a frightening picture.
Therefore, we invite all to join with us to turn things around because we can do it. There are solutions: dealing with truth; not denying realities; and not being afraid of each other. Love and respect are the answers. We can no longer sit back and allow 2-year-old children in playgrounds and 86-year-old grandparents at home to be killed in that which is deemed to be the most developed, intelligent, sophisticated and most democratic nation in the world.
Join with the New York Amsterdam News and bring your associates, but more importantly, bring yourself and your respect and love for all people to our rally that says “Our Lives Matter” Saturday, Aug. 15 on West 135th Street between St. Nicholas Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in the village of Harlem from noon to 3 p.m., and let’s leave this event unified in agreement that we must turn things around. At this Aug. 15 event, we will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma march.
“Our Lives Matter” and love is the answer.
“Our Lives Matter” is a year-round initiative to bring together faith-based, civic, humanitarian, youth-based and educational institutions, unions and media to address the never ending loss of lives throughout America.
For more information, call 212-862-7200 and ask for Ms. Sutton or email email@example.com.
Lloyd Williams is president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce