I should start by stating that I have a very personal interest in the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been almost nine years since my daughter and son-in-law traveled to Ethiopia to bring home two precious children. So you see, I have two African, and now American, grandchildren.

Until that time, I had looked at the world through a different lens, but all that has changed. Each time there is another black life snuffed out by an act of violence, I am in terror for my treasured Silas and Eva. They will not remain children who pose no imagined threat to the white community. They will grow to be black teenagers and adults, who will want, and have the right to strive for, all the same opportunities that we, as privileged whites, enjoy without much thought and often with a sense of entitlement.

George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police was the tipping point. The police culture that allowed the suffocation of a handcuffed black man is unconscionable. The black community is shouting for change, and it is up to the white community to address the systemic social injustices; the inequities of housing, education and health care. This senseless death has ignited the smoldering anger and intense frustration of the disparity between blacks and the whites in power.

People of color are dying from the COVID virus at four times the rate of white people, while a black man is four times more likely to be stopped by the police. Our police were militarized after 911, and now they stand trained in warfare tactics, shouldering assault weapons as they face American citizens exercising their right to peaceful assembly. I am not condoning the violence and destruction of the night. It is unlawful and wrong, and it diminishes the real message of social change that is being demanded by day. It is wrenching and frightening to watch this president encourage division and fuel the flames of distrust with taunting rhetoric and strong armed tactics.

Like black children in America and all over the world, Silas and Eva have learned about the harsh realities of racism as they listen to their fearful parents instruct them on behavior that might one day save their lives. These are not conversations I, who enjoys white privilege, ever felt the need to have with my children. Indeed it never occurred to me; why should it? I didn’t feel frightened!

I want Silas and Eva to grow up enjoying all the same opportunities that every child in this nation should expect and deserve. Watching so many people of all backgrounds join together is heartening, and makes me dare to hope for change.

This November go to the polls or mail an absentee ballot. Honor George Floyd’s death by making the change needed, so that every child in the United States can grow up with dignity and opportunity.

The change is now.

Patricia M. LeVeen lives in Manchester.


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