Dudzic: It's time to address racial equality, criminal justice reform
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
It's been exactly 57 years since Rev. Martin Luther King gave his historic "I have a dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. In an era without today's social media megaphone to promote the event, more than a quarter of a million Americans were in attendance that day. It was sheer conviction and urgent desire for change that drew people from all over the country to Washington, D.C., for that historic moment in 1963.
On Aug. 28, 2020, a "Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" March took place, in Washington, D.C., and across the country. The disproportionate killing of Black people in the United States must end. When I was in graduate school, earning my master's degree in Conflict Resolution, I took several courses on genocide. One course that will stay with me forever was the study of the Rwandan Civil War in 1990 and the truth and reconciliation commission that began nearly a decade later in order for Rwanda to heal. A truth commission is a government's way of owning up to its human rights violations, systemic abuse, racism and any other serious abuses that have occurred. The commission's objective is to identify the causes and consequences of the harm and provide a clear path to ensure it is never repeated. I believe the United States of America needs to hold a truth and reconciliation commission over the enslavement and disproportionate killing of Black people. The fight for racial equality and justice matters now more than ever. We need criminal justice reform now. We need police accountability now. To be clear, I am not a police abolitionist. There will always be crime that necessitates the use of trained police officers and I am grateful to the folks every day who respond to those calls. However, responding to homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health crises requires a different skill set. Police are not social workers and they cannot replace the sorely needed investments in our community. We need to put our community first and we need leaders who are ready to meet this moment head on.
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