The nation exhaled a collective sigh of relief with the conviction of police officer Derek Chauvin, who infamously took George Floyd’s life with a brutal knee to his neck as onlookers pleaded with him for mercy. Fears abounded that the failure to find Chauvin guilty could spark violent and widespread rioting across the country.

It is stunning to consider that we as Americans are still paying for the sins of our fathers. The founding fathers of this great nation, whose genius created the framework for a thriving democracy that has lasted centuries and set the stage for America to lead the world, simultaneously saddled us with a legacy of oppression that began with slavery and has continued in the form of discrimination directed at people based upon the hue of their skin.

But while much of what you get from the mainstream media these days is centered on doom and gloom, the times are changing, and these societal shifts are creating advantages and opportunities for Black Americans.

In the corporate realm, out of fear of being “canceled” and as part of the nonstop pursuit to be politically correct, organizations across this country are falling over themselves to recruit, retain and promote Black employees. So much so that some whites have coined the term “Black privilege,” which refers to discriminatory programs including affirmative action and hiring initiatives aimed specifically at placing a preference upon the hiring of minorities.

Moreover, there is a genuine fear that organizations can and will be attacked if they do not promote adequate racial diversity in their businesses. In truth, there are more opportunities than ever before for Black professionals to get ahead in today’s America. To avoid being tripped up on today’s racially charged playing field, companies are presenting golden opportunities to educated and hardworking Black people prepared to seize the moment.

It’s a remarkable phenomenon, but not the story that the liberal left wants you to see. Despite news accounts of laws and policies being passed to oppress Blacks, new opportunities and chances for brighter futures continue to abound, balancing out this equation and many Blacks are indeed seizing and taking advantage of them, which is a positive thing.

The atmosphere in this country is more welcoming than ever before in history to people of color. We had a Black president—twice—and a Black woman currently serves as vice president. All this talk of racial oppression in the United States ignores the undeniable parity that actually exists.

We should avoid the tendency to adopt a social media mindset where everything is viewed as scandalous, and things are reflexively taken to the extreme and outrage lies just below the surface.

In America today, the biggest obstacle to some Black people getting ahead is the lack of preparation to compete and maneuver in a globally connected and competitive world. All too often, there are some who choose not to take full advantage of their God-given talents. Yes, I understand people are both complex and different; I also understand that every environment is different, and while it may be easier or harder for some, that should never kill the drive to put forth your best and to try regardless of what the obstacles and circumstances are. Polarization and anger have limited the potential and opportunity for so many members of the Black community, but the focus must be on reinvigorating ourselves with strength, focus and purpose.

Yes, there are huge problems within the Black community in terms of crime and addiction. We look at Black cities across the country and they are riddled with crime. The Baltimore Sun noted that the number of Blacks gunned down in the streets by other Blacks “parallels our memories of the many Blacks lynched in communities across the United States after Reconstruction. This is a devastating plague acutely affecting Black communities across the country.” This must come to an end if Black people as a whole are to excel. There must be more than exceptions; excellence must become commonplace if every Black child is to have a real chance at reaching their dreams.

We should demand accountability from those who choose to commit crimes. Moreover, instead of demanding that we “defund the police,” we should be showing appreciation to the efforts of law enforcement to make our communities safer, which are typically most stricken by violence. Not everyone who is shot by the police who happens to be Black was shot because he or she was Black. When injustices happen, especially at the hands of those entrusted to serve and protect us, then we must forcefully condemn those bad apples and demand justice. However, we should do so legally and without resorting to violence. People who feel marginalized must overcome challenges the right way, avoiding the temptation to turn the tables by attacking policemen or harming people simply as a way to exact revenge.

People of color who choose to chase the American dream can win the day if they take the high moral road. In fact, the time has never been better for Black Americans, particularly when you think about the past and what Blacks had to overcome, we are truly living in a time that those generations ago could have never imagined and we must take each and every opportunity. Nothing is without flaw and there will always be more work we can all do as individuals to constantly create a better environment for all of us, but that should never stop our pursuits of actualizing our dreams.

Hopefully, the death of George Floyd will ultimately serve not as a painful reminder of our nation’s painful history of racism, but another important step on the long road to equality. We may actually find that bringing the issue of race to the center of discussion in this country has created a unique time for people of all colors to not only heal, but also to shine and work for the collective betterment of all Americans.

This may prove to be a watershed moment for people of all colors to unite and make this country even greater.

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