By Tony Hooker
I was so ready to write a positive column about positive recent developments in our world. I went out to lunch with my family. All the businesses in the River City had good weekends as we moved into the next stage of our COVID-19 response.
So many business owners have put everything they have into remaining afloat. I’ve seen the raw, emotional, painful toll that this has taken on these folks, both here and in Champaign Urbana and everywhere, really, and I was so ready to see them get just a bit of relief.
And then, Minneapolis happened. George Floyd happened. A tragic death that could have been avoided at so many junctures. By his actions. By the police officers’ actions. But it did. And as usual, the worst dregs of society took advantage of the situation and made it about them. Not about Mr. Floyd. Not about social injustice. About stealing clothes from Old Navy and TV’s from Best Buy. Looting was the order of the day. Not expressing frustration about the current racial climate. And that sucks, frankly.
A prime opportunity for meaningful dialogue was lost. Many who said that they’ve been unfairly profiled did the same thing, painting all cops with the same brush. Painting all people with the same brush of privilege. And it hurts, because it delegitimizes the hard work of so many to break the bonds of poverty, racism and despair. So many of my friends of different races have worked so hard to succeed, and I fear that the acts of a few will undo much of their efforts.
All of these hardworking folks have endured unimaginable hardships to keep things afloat, and to see it all undone by the acts of these hoodlums is heartbreaking.
Of course, there will be those that will state, correctly, that I can’t possibly understand the experiences of others. And they’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to be profiled. I don’t know what it’s like to be looked at suspiciously because I’m different.
But, I do know someone who did face these issues, and so many more. And he didn’t feel that rioting and looting were the answer. In fact, he felt just the opposite. So, I’m closing this column with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, upon receiving the Nobel Prize.
“After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
It is my sincerest hope that we can all come together and live the life that Dr. King imagined, one where a person would be judged, not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.
(The views and opinions expressed in the submitted columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Journal.)