By Crystal D. Charley-Sibley | President, Southern Burlington County NAACP
Between 1920 and 1938 the NAACP flew a flag outside its national office. The landmark symbol hanging from the pole read “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday” signifying the lynching of Black people in the United States. Our nation should absolutely be ashamed that almost a century later, racists continue to the brutalize and kill Black people.
The murder of George Floyd by police, is an unspeakable tragedy and yet another grim example of the disregard for black lives in America. Sadly, police brutality against the Black community has been an ever-present occurrence, dating back to its roots as a method used to preserve the system of slavery. The pervasive degradation of Black people and the horrific pervasive atrocities against Black bodies, must stop! The arrest of Officer Derek Chauvin is not enough. Three other officers remain who were complicit in the killing Mr. Floyd. We want them all charged for their role in this inexcusable death.
These are NOT isolated incidents. They are directly related to the systemic racism that plagues our country at an even more alarming rate than the coronavirus. Our communities have been in a state of emergency long before the first COVID-19 case was identified.
While all of the lives taken, whether at the hands of law enforcement or racist vigilantes, are deeply troubling, this particular atrocity seems to have sparked the outrage that few can turn a blind eye. This moment has awakened those who’ve previously remained silent on these issues, hopefully uniting like-minded Americans to not only demand accountability and swift justice for all officers involved, but also demand that there is tangible and quantifiable change in the immediate future.
Nationally, we are calling for the development of federal legislation similar to a Hate Crime bill, which would provide detailed procedures and penalties in cases of blatant police brutality. The unrest we are seeing today is what happens when the road to justice is too long and drawn-out. These uprisings are a result of our communities feeling as though, once again, nothing is going to be done.
The grief of Black mothers and fathers is overwhelming. Our communities, saddened and angered, mourn the lives of our brothers and sisters. Black parents have unique fears and causes to worry for the safety of our children, that weigh heavy on our hearts, every, single, day. It is unfair. It is unacceptable. It must CHANGE. This time the outcomes must be different. This time MUST be the LAST time. Enough is enough. We Are Done Dying.
This 45th President’s actions are disgusting, yet not unexpected. The deliberate insensitive and inflammatory remarks from the White House, are a manifestation of HATE! He has proven to be incapable of displaying the competency and compassion necessary to lead this country through this turbulent time – turbulence which has largely been orchestrated by his intentional marginalization of our communities. We must rise above the bigotry and ignorance.
We can no longer allow these events to be polarizing. Contrary, we must make this an opportunity to unify. We must unify the black community and beyond to fight for humanity toward black people.
To truly change this narrative, you must find this behavior indefensible regardless of your race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, or age. No one can sit in silence. No one can be complicit. NO ONE!
Yours in Solidarity.
Crystal Charley-Sibley also serves as second vice president on the New Jersey State NAACP Conference
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