By Jean Hamilton
I attended the Social Justice Rally in Chapel Hill that was co-sponsored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Youth Advocates. I was proud and grateful for the leadership of our young people in organizing a peaceful march to honor George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all the other Black Americans slain due to the systemic racism in our society and perpetuated by some in law enforcement.
To the family and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all the other Black Americans whose lives were taken unjustly, my heart is heavy for your loss. As a Black American, I am filled with sadness, anger and fear that such injustice persists in the United States and has gotten worse under the current president.
To end racism and the state-sanctioned violence against people of color in our country, each and every one of us will have to take action. This action needs to include a multitude of sustained activities including peaceful protests and rallies, electing progressive candidates, donating to social justice organizations, volunteering with social justice organizations and recognizing and changing laws, regulations, policies and procedures that institutionalize racism.
Our actions also must encompass our willingness to look at our own thoughts, emotions and behaviors to see how implicit biases are reflected, and engage in conversations with our communities about racial and social injustices. We will need to speak out against those in power who use that power for their own gain instead of for the common good. We will need to remember that united we stand, divided we fall.
As Orange County commissioner I pledge to remember the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all the other people of color. When I am seated in December, I plan to work on identifying and eliminating practices of Orange County that contribute to institutionalized racism. In this age of COVID-19, with all the additional fears and uncertainties, we must not lose faith in our resolve to reform and strengthen our institutions to promote the welfare of all residents.
Together we can forge a more equitable and sustainable Orange County.
Jean Hamilton, a former member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, was elected to a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners this spring.