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A Chokehold on Justice

by Lewis Randa

Letter in Wicked Local Dover, December 12, 2014 

With the haunting last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,” I pledge that so long as I draw breath, I will apply racism to the adage, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

As I watched the evening news and heard the grand jury findings in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, I was repulsed, not only by the injustice I perceived being handed down, but more so by what I now see as personal bias when it comes to what gets my conscience riled. Cultural and systemic racism, particularly when it is so blatant, should be center stage of concern for everyone. I confess, until now, it hasn’t been.

We marched against the killing of people of color in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, in foreign lands, by American soldiers. Yet, when our domestic soldiers, our local police, kill Americans of color, and with impunity no less, I have hesitated to make a statement and take a public stand. This is especially troubling since I was discharged from the military as a conscientious objector, and have marched and performed civil disobedience to protest war and social injustice for decades. It is easier, sad but true, to discern and critique injustice when it occurs elsewhere in the world, or doesn’t affect us directly. When it comes to race relations, we have difficulty seeing the forest through the trees.

The chokehold that was placed around Eric Garner’s neck has left me deeply troubled, but not speechless. May we each, with every breath we take, find our own unique way of becoming part of the solution. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Lewis M. Randa

The Peace Abbey Foundation

Sherborn, MA 01770-0216

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