Editorial, 6/2: How can we each fight racism, improve Lincoln?

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BLM Peaceful Protest

Protesters gather on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol during a peaceful protest on Sunday.

We have taken the unusual step of putting today’s Journal Star editorial board opinion on Page A1 due to the importance of the topic.

We may share a community, but people of color sometimes live in a very different place.

Sometimes, the people sworn to protect and serve do the opposite. The death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer was another reminder of that, one many African Americans didn’t need.

The incident and the following outcry was a stark depiction — captured on video — of something many white Americans don’t want to believe is systemic racism.

The aftershocks have been felt far and wide — including here in Lincoln, where consecutive nights of protests have brought thousands into the streets. While many demonstrated peacefully, others lashed out in frustration and rage.

Protests in Lincoln over the weekend became violent late at night, while daytime protests were peaceful.

The protests by people of color everywhere — Lincoln included — are rooted in centuries of historical oppression and huge issues like slavery and lynchings. Recent events have only intensified frustration with displays of bigotry, injustice and countless daily incidents of prejudice on a personal level.

In less than three months, COVID-19 fundamentally altered our lives. While we as a community are learning to navigate this new virus and our new normal, we have yet to learn how to navigate the virus of over 400 years of racism.

Change has to go much deeper than a T-shirt, a bumper sticker or a Facebook post. What happens when the cameras, protests and media fade away? Will we still have passion to make real change? Will the events we’ve witnessed in that past months motivate us as a community to have the courage to find our voices to stand up and speak out, to not safely ignore bigotry, discrimination and injustice but shine a light on these acts.

The change that will transform our society won’t happen in legislative or city council chambers. It will happen in our hearts and minds. This work is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

And it will start with a simple question we each must ask of ourselves as a community:  What can I do today — and forever — to fight racism and improve our Lincoln? A future of peace and prosperity depends on how we respond.

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