The protests are. The looting is not.
African Americans are justified in their rage at how they have been treated by the police. They are justified in clamoring for fairness, for dialogue, for the end of prejudicial behaviors. They are justified in their call for prompt review of cases where improprieties or sheer cruelty have been present.
Yes, they are.
But as riots and wanton destruction spread across our land, I am disturbed by the lack of leadership to call the nation to its senses.
Why hasn’t our President been a President?
Why hasn’t he held a national broadcast calling for whatever actions are needed to stop the unfairness from continuing? Why hasn’t he called for police reform on a national level? Why hasn’t he looked us in the eye and acknowledged that something has been very wrong for George Floyd to have died as he did in Minneapolis.
And why hasn’t the African American leadership of the country stepped front and asked that the looting stop right now?
That is a responsibility that should not be shirked.
We need action now.
We need dialogue.
People have the right to protest, and loudly so, but not to loot, not to steal, not to destroy.
We do not need silence from our leaders, whatever their color. What is the point of letting a deeply flawed President continue to embarrass himself by his repeated blunders?
The nation is in flames and he has yet to step up and say, ‘Yes, protesters, there is something wrong, yes, and I too watched the video of George Floyd’s death. I, too, fellow Americans, felt the suffocating pain of his last moments as he lay pinned down by the knee of an officer with no regard for the damage his action might be inflicting. I too felt the anguish.’
But our President cannot say that because he lacks that depth of feeling. It is simply not in him.
Calls have gone out for him to address the nation, but as of this writing he has yet to do so.
There is a huge void of leadership in the country.
Someone has to step in. If we feel at a loss then let us reach back into our recent history.
And so I assure you, that Marin Luther King would have by now, stood up on a doorstep somewhere in Minneapolis and addressed the entire nation, whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian, vehemently asking, with all the power he could muster, that we show restraint, that the difficult time we are now living calls for reflection, for feeling the fullness of our hurt, asking that we reflect on how all of us have been deeply offended by the violence of some police officers and, even beyond that, that we are deeply offended by the institutionalized violence that leads to lack of opportunity in our land, uneven health care and education.
Martin Luther King would not have played it safe, holding back to see how much more our flawed President will do in his path to self destruction.
So, please, dear leaders, someone, no matter what your color, step up and call upon the spirit of the man who gave us the glorious words, ‘I have a dream, that one day in America we will be judged by the strength of our character and not the color of our skin.’
Someone, please, in this hour of need, someone with access to the media, please step up and do the right thing.
Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’ available on Amazon.