Demand More…

Mitch Schneider
June 2, 2020

I haven’t posted in days. It’s the longest I’ve gone without sharing my thoughts and feelings and is more uncomfortable than you can imagine. It isn’t that I have nothing to say. It’s that there is too much. Too much to process.

The COVID-19 pandemic would have been quite enough. And, despite all its difficulties, I was actually managing social and physical distancing relatively well. After all, Lesley and I have more than a year of experience isolating ourselves from friends and family under our respective belts.

What has me paralyzed is George Floyd’s murder, the peaceful protests, and the inexcusable depravity of the looting and destruction visited upon cities across the country including Los Angeles.

It isn’t that I haven’t seen this before. I’ve seen it far too often. I’ve experienced more than my share of riots, looting, and destruction since we moved here. The Watts Riots ignited in August of 1965, a year after I graduated from Fairfax High School. Almost thirty years later, we found ourselves dealing with the riots of 1992. And, now, we’re dealing with the same disappointment, rage, and frustration twenty-eight years later.

Fifty-five Years

Fifty-five years and what has changed?

I know I will be eviscerated for whatever position I take, but I can’t watch this anymore without at least trying to communicate what I’m feeling.

Whatever you believe, George Floyd was murdered in cold blood. The flow of oxygen to his lungs and blood to his brain was interrupted by the cold indifference of Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck and the weight of two of the officers complicit in Floyd’s murder on his back.

We saw it! And, what we saw was unjustifiable. Certainly, unjustified by the multiple videos taken at the scene. Yet, only one of the men responsible has been charged and arrested… And, that took weeks. What about the other three officers who violated their oath?

That oath isn’t selective. It doesn’t apply to only one element of the society those officers are sworn to serve. It doesn’t suggest they can serve one and persecute another.

What would be going through your mind as you watched, and it was your brother on the ground? Your father, mother, daughter or son?

How satisfied would you be with how swiftly the wheels of justice turned? How certain would you be that justice was served after the initial autopsy results were released and differed so broadly from what the world witnessed?

Prejudice is real. Both, overt and covert. Both, institutionalized and individual. I’ve experienced it just as you have more than likely witnessed it. It’s pervasive. Insidious. Sometimes, even unknown to those afflicted. But, it’s real! The result of 400 years of dominance and discrimination. Four hundred years of stolen opportunity and institutionalized oppression. It’s blackface and bad jokes. Jokes that perpetuate stereotypes that are anything but funny.

A Danger From Within

Fifty-five years since the Watts Riots. Fifty-five years! And, while there are places like Los Angeles where a lot has changed, and for the better — At least, institutionally. There are still too many places where nothing has changed at all.

What is plaguing our nation is far more dangerous than the coronavirus because we are unwilling and unable to come to terms with it. To stare into the mirror and see it in our own reflection. Until we are able to do that nothing will change. Until we can see the “other” in ourselves and ourselves in the “other:” until we can feel and hear and see that pain as if it was our own, there is no reason to change.

Does that justify the damage? The looting? The destruction? Of course, not!

Should we tolerate that as a civilized society? No!

Do we need to see the people responsible arrested, charged, brought before a judge, and incarcerated? Absolutely!

Do we need to differentiate between that and the message of healing and hope that needs to be spread across the nation? I believe we do with a perfect faith.

We owe it to ourselves to become the nation we were meant to be. That we can be.

And, for the record, I’m no bleeding-heart liberal. I’m a former business owner who understands property loss better than most. I’m not anti-police either. If you really want to understand the anxiety associated with what our police experience every day, volunteer for a second-shift ride-along. Then, get out of the vehicle with the officer when he makes a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with blacked-out windows and has no idea what’s waiting for him as he approaches the vehicle.

A Call to Action

There is one more thing. The one thing that’s missing from posts like these and that’s a call to action. A call to action to listen. Listen to your heart. A call to action to see. Not with your eyes, but with your soul.

Think back to what you’ve heard and seen. The number of times you knew it was wrong and didn’t react or reacted in a way that failed to make you proud.

My call to action is to raise the bar. To expect less from others and demand more. More of ourselves and more of our leaders.

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