This public statement comes to us from J. Clement Cicilline, Chair of the Newport Democratic City Committee:
The year 2020 has been such a remarkable one in this country for so many reasons, but most notably the challenge to our physical health and of our moral character. A day has not recently passed without a story about the COVID 19 pandemic and our ups and downs in battling with this damnable virus.
But, a much more long-term and pervasive virus of another nature is the pandemic of racism. We have been witnesses this year to a countless number of offensive incidents of racial hatred and discrimination, many of which are crimes – including murder.
The outrage was not just experienced in the Black community. It was felt everywhere. But, no one hurts more than Blacks in this country for not only the senseless brutality of these physical assaults, but also the fact that they continue to occur unabated with an attitude of seeming indifference on the part of a lot of people.
We know now that racism is reinforced by silence. A variant on this concept is that quote from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (& women) to do nothing.”
So, it is time for all Americans to step up and become facilitators for positive change.
The NDCC strongly urges all citizens to take decisive action:
Develop an intolerance to intolerance: Speak up and out when you hear racial slurs or racially derogatory statements or jokes.
Support school curricula that teach about the accomplishments of Blacks in America and the world and about the evils of slavery and racism.
Require municipalities to hire more minority teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
Elect more minority individuals to office; appoint more minority individuals to boards and commissions.
Promote more minority employees to positions of higher responsibility in government, organizations, and businesses.
Call on every candidate for elected office to make a statement promoting racial justice and denouncing racial discrimination.
Remove “Providence Plantations” from the official name of the State of Rhode Island despite the “fact” that historians assert that it had a different meaning at the time of our state’s founding. We should be much more sensitive to and aware of how hurtful and demeaning the word “plantations” has now become to Blacks in Rhode Island. Their feelings and perspective on this issue are most deserving of respect.
Support peaceful, non-violent protests for equality and justice, with physical presence that meets state regulations and protocols for health and safety.
We have a genuine opportunity to effect an enduring transformation of our society by embracing principles of fairness, decency, and regard for the rights of others. We owe it to each other to engage in honest, thoughtful and caring interactions that will serve to make life much more meaningful. But, this won’t ever happen if we don’t treat each other as equals. End racism now!
Finally, there would be no greater way to honor the life and legacy of Cong. John Lewis by taking up the mantel that he carried so courageously and effectively for decades, always with a commitment in the promise of America to hold that all people are created equal.
J. Clement Cicilline