• December 5th, 2022
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A Nation at the Crossroads


Raymond Ayón

Like you, I have been witness to a nation in revolt, when on May 25th, 2020 four Minneapolis police officers served as judge and jury and took the life of George Floyd, a-46 year-old Black male. The actual events were captured on video as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stopped the heartbeat of George Floyd, and his demonstrative action brought a nation to its knees.

This event will be archived, and our grandchildren will ask how could of this taken place in América? How could such an atrocity to a Black man beyond any regard of humanity some 157 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and declared all slaves be free?

We as a nation must visit past atrocities to understand that hate and discrimination never die; and must be abated at every turn. We must accept the notion that no man or State can free another man, as we are all born free, although he can free the oppressor.

A quote from Frederick Douglass: “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

América over the last 243 years has wrapped itself around the American flag, whose fabric is woven in an image of white history and religion. The fabric absolves itself from the contribution of African Americans and other people of color.

We are a nation at the crossroads; we no longer can look at our country through the lens of white América. When we speak of América; Black children must feel empowered, not negated. When we speak of América, Latino children must have the freedom to dream of this great country and the contribution of their Latin roots.

We are a nation at the crossroads; we no longer can look at our country through the lens of white América. When we speak of América; Black children must feel empowered, not negated. When we speak of América, Latino children must have the freedom to dream of this great country and the contribution of their Latin roots.

President Trump, the Coronavirus, and the economic impact that sent million to the brink of hunger have created the perfect storm.

Let’s start with President Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again,’ four years ago that was battle cry to millions of Americans who were looking for change. Their Messiah seemed to descend from the heavens as glided down an escalator accompanied by his trophy wife. Moments later he would address his would-be followers with hateful rhetoric that would have made George Wallace blush. He went on a diatribe of hate speech that even shocked Fox News: “Mexican are coming to our country and they are rapist and drug dealers.” This rhetoric was music to the disenchanted and Trump would soon become the nominee for the Republican Party for 2016. As we all know, the rest is history. What followed was a cascade of failures, from domestic issues, including the separation of children from their parents, children who subsequently found themselves in cages. These atrocities had not been mirrored since the Internment of Japanese Americans in World War Two.

After the upheaval that Trump created at home, he would then take his hateful rhetoric around the world. He maligned many European nations   and created a huge wedge between América and our NATO Partners, North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Over the last four years the Trump Administration has been a cancer, a cancer of hate, and division that has permeated across América.

Let me be clear; the narrative is not Trump’s failed presidency, but rather the needless death of George Floyd and how President Trump was complicit by empowering a segment of our society that felt disenfranchised and created a society of them and us. Adolph Hitler created a society of them and us, which has been argued as the most notorious regime in modern times. It has been contended that Hitler’s playbook was the Jim Crow laws in our country, as described in James Whitman’s book, “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.”

As a nation we must refocus the American lens in which we see ourselves as Americans. How many times have you heard the axiom by our politicians, ‘We are a nation of immigrants’?  Yet in our country we only want to acknowledge the European immigrant whose wealth and prosperity was built on the backs of Black América, Asians, and the Indigenous Latino.

The execution of George Floyd and the spread of the Coronavirus was the unmasking of the American landscape and the huge disparity of wealth and the basic needs of the disenfranchised, like heath care, education, and housing in our country. The Coronavirus has taken the lives of over 110,000 lives in our country and has disproportionately affected people of color. What unfolded with the Coronavirus was a war on the poor and people of color.

The virus swept through the Navajo Indian Reservation much like Smallpox decimated the American Indian. The world was witnessed that the real Americans, the Indigenous are still living in shanty town conditions, with no running water.  Yet, we Americans see ourselves as the gate keepers of human rights and a country where all our children can fulfill their dreams.

América has about 5 percent of the world’s population yet, we have over 25 percent of the world’s prison population, where minorities are disproportionately represented. In 2010, the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, chronicles the imprisonment of millions of African Americans locked behind bars and cast as second-class citizens.

Over the last two weeks we have been witness to demonstrations across our nation under the flag ship of Black Lives MatterHundreds of thousands have taken to the street and demanded accountability for the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers.

When we look at the DNA of the protesters it is truly a rainbow coalition of América demanding change. The majority were White young men and women refusing to carry on a legacy of broken promises and hypocrisy. These new centurions of change demanded equity and fair treatment and inclusion for all Americans. They did not stay home murmur the words, “I am not prejudice, I have black friends.”  But rather they acknowledged White privilege and their cry was ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This young rainbow coalition of change is the América I know, an América that will always find its way in the darkest of days.

Out of the ashes of this national upheaval, Denver’s newly appointed Hispanic Police Chief would get a nation’s attention. His heroics were not the battle cry of days past; with police batons at the ready, but his heroics were compassion. Compassion that spoke of his humility. Denver Chief Paul Pazen was tested in crisis and his leadership style captured the imagination of a nation, as he marched in full color of his authority side by side with the protesters.

We all could learn from Chief Paul Pazen that change comes only when we have the courage, to be a people of empathy and compassion.

 

Raymond Ayón is a Writer and a retired Denver Police Detective.

 

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