We interrupt this regularly scheduled program.
I sat down to write another COVID-19 update this morning and realized I just don’t have it in me. I think I can speak for a lot of Americans when I say that my heart is sick today. But it’s not because of some invisible virus. It’s because of the very visible hatred that is destroying the U.S. The country of my birth, and the land that I love. I don’t recognize it anymore.
George Floyd was murdered because he was black. There really is no other way to spin it.
So many of us, especially those of great privilege, who cannot comprehend how our skin color alone could make us a target, have stayed silent for too long. I have stayed silent too long.
I want to say this: I have utmost respect for law enforcement. It takes a special kind of person to be a police officer, a good police officer. It takes empathy, patience, good judgement under extreme pressure, and above all, courage. And I believe that very, very many – possibly the majority – of policemen and policewomen have those qualities. Targeting them all because of some very bad apples is wrong. So my question for police departments, mayors, and other authorities is this: what can you do to make sure George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Philandro Castile, and so many others didn’t die in vain? How can you MAKE IT STOP?
But of course it goes much deeper than police brutality. It’s about a country that’s armed to the teeth, where racists with guns are too often committing horrendous acts of violence against innocent people. It has to stop.
If a black man asks you to leash your dog because it’s scaring the birds, and your response is to call the police, you’re part of the problem. If you see a black man jogging in your neighborhood and he makes you fearful, you’re part of the problem. And if you read about stories like these and don’t do or say anything, YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM. For the longest time, that was me.
When I was a kid, we used to sing a song in our church choir: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” It really does have to start with us. So I’m asking everyone to speak out. Start a conversation in your Zoom Sunday school class tomorrow. Ask your neighbor what he or she thinks. Start a dialogue at your next family gathering. Reach out to your friends of color and show them you care. We all have a voice. For John and me, it’s this blog.
We know this is a big departure from our usual topics of travel and life as expats in Colombia. And if this post offends you, we’re sorry. Feel free to unsubscribe from our blog, or just ignore us from now on. But in the words of another writer/blogger I respect, John Pavlovitz, sometimes there’s stuff that needs to be said. RACISM HAS TO STOP.
Yes, COVID-19 is still around and still escalating in Colombia. In some parts of the country, it’s quite alarming. There are indications that the healthcare facilities are reaching capacity in Bogotá and other hot spot areas. In Antioquia the numbers are still very low. And we just recorded our first new death in over a month. Monday, we’ll be entering a new phase of reopening, what the government is calling “intelligent quarantine.” We’ll see how it goes.