(Originally published May 31st, 2020)
I write this while listening to helicopters circle our City of Detroit. An 8pm curfew is in effect tonight, which is not being observed by protestors. Our city hurts, and I hurt too.
Poverty and racism are human conditions. These are constructs understood and inflicted by humans on their neighbors. This harm inflicted is purposeful, whether by mindless habit or pre-meditation.
We know how to treat and resolve these conditions: with universally accessible high quality public education and housing, health care, and demand-informed workforce training.
Throughout human history, popular uprisings are sparked by layers of injustice. Uprisings are often the result of years, decades, and centuries of aggression and violence directed at one or more subset of humans.
The uprisings we are witnessing now are a convergence of conditions, expressed as grief, fear, exhaustion, and sometimes rage. African Americans are entirely justified in asking, “Am I next?”
This question can be applied to police violence, COVID-19, or systems better designed to incarcerate than to educate. “Am I next,” is a legitimate question reinforced by the weight of our shared history. Imagine the pain of a thousand cuts, never allowed to heal.
To move forward we must focus our time, and an investment of will, into treating these self-inflicted conditions. A single band-aid, reinforced by a fancy PR campaign, will not support the healing of a thousand cuts. The indelible damage requires thoughtful and sustained systems change.
The instant muscle response of those in power will inevitably support institutional racism and punitive responses. These are tools of oppression that have been tried, true, and yield only more cuts. Austerity and amputation will not inspire compliance, they only serve to compress and focus the righteous struggle for equitable and decent systems change.
The United States and the State of Michigan have the tools and resources needed to invest in equitable and decent systems change. Economic struggles caused in response to managing the spread of COVID-19 are an extraordinary stress that brought our constrained communities to boil. The extra-judicial murder of George Floyd sent communities around the U.S. spilling over into the streets. Now we suffer more cuts.
Americans demand universal access to high quality healthcare now.
We require enforcement of our right to a high quality public education. This must include investment in workforce training for adults denied a quality education by politics during their own youth.
We seek the prosecution all of those whose actions yield screams of, “I can’t breathe.” Whether that be police, corporate polluters, or pharmaceutical and insurance companies who create their own windfall pricing structures in support of profit over people.
We deserve an opportunity to implement public budgeting practices that include purposeful analysis and dialogue- which seek to eliminate institutional bias and racism.
Public resources seem almost limitless when there are questions of property and corporate interest. The well is deep when we need to manufacture and deploy trillions of dollars of lethal force anywhere in the world.
This near endless spending is in contrast to the vile finger-pointing and punitive calls for austerity in response a groundswell for equitable and decent systems change.
I am investing in these changes by standing as a candidate for State Representative in District 6. The Democratic Primary Election is August 4, 2020. I ask for the vote of neighbors in Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge. After spending my career managing small businesses, and building workforce development opportunities for Detroiters, it is clear to me that the change we need starts locally and must be institutionalized with systems access only found in Lansing.
Every inhabitant of the U.S. has a choice: be a part of the solution, or obstruct and serve to reinforce systems that harm and oppress. We cannot allow decent people to stand aside in silence, the epidemic of silence is a near-equal part of the problem.
I choose decency and the hard work needed to invest in people and our systems that need to be changed.