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In small group discussions sponsored by our recently-formed DEI
Commission, the question arose of whether our country has changed in the past
year. Many viewpoints followed, but my personal reaction was an unequivocal
“Yes.” And I say this because we are all finally talking about issues of race and systemic racism.
Over the past year, media of all persuasions have been filled with viewpoints
about racism – both intended and unintended. As individuals, many of us have
been involved in small group and individual discussions with friends, family,
colleagues and people on the street. Regardless of whether one agrees or
disagrees with certain viewpoints, it is important that we listen.
Early on in its existence, the Black Lives Matter movement was viewed
skeptically by some because of a perceived connection to civil disturbance. But
the fundamental question was fairly simple – “Do Black lives matter?” In a
word, the answer is equally simple: “Yes.” Anyone that upholds the dignity of a
human life must make no distinction between the color of one’s skin, one’s religious
outlook, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic. The evolution
of one’s thinking about these weighty matters comes after actually listening to
not only what is being said, but also the context from which it comes.
In the ‘60s, a sign commonly seen in the marches of those advocating
civil rights was “I am a Man.” Regardless of one’s personal views of civil
rights (at the time), the dignity of a human life should have been beyond
reproach. But human nature does not always comport with the way things ought to
The changes I have seen in this past year are hopeful. Difficult and
sometimes exhausting conversations are happening. But as we continue to listen,
hearts and minds are changing, one person at a time. I know mine has.
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