Today’s guest columnist is Maury Shevin.
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A few weeks have passed since our nation and our city erupted in righteous revulsion to the killing of George Floyd.
Like many, I am still putting events into perspective, but Floyd’s death can only be described as a 21st Century lynching.
Nationwide, establishment apologists want me to focus on Mr. Floyd’s criminal record. Reformist who want to defund police want me to focus on a system that is irrefutably racist and they assert, irreparably broken.
Closer to home, some of my friends consider the destruction of property in Birmingham to be outlandish. Others consider the rage of injustice to support more than merely trying to tear down the symbol of the system—the Confederate Monument in Linn Park.
Reactionary friends point and say, “see, we told you so—an excuse for anarchy and looting.” Radicals point and say, “the only thing that the entrenched power structure ever understands is a response that tears down an antiquated and unresponsive system.”
But, let’s step back and take a look at the response in Birmingham.
On a macro level, after a Sunday night of anxiety and outrage, our political, civic and religious leaders stepped forward, inspiring confidence and channeling the rage. And, with the “in your face” removal of the monument by the Woodfin Administration, Birmingham is once again leading the state down the path of social justice—the pathway that Alabama seems to always want to avoid taking.
On a micro level, there are conversations going on everywhere and at every level as to “what I can do to make a difference.” There has been an outpouring of concern and emotion by those Whites who have always known of injustice suffered by Blacks, but who have sat on the sidelines. There is for the first time in a long time, a serious discussion of “white privilege” and just what that means.
I may be a Pollyanna, but from my vantage point, Birmingham’s people—of all walks of life—are no longer satisfied to sit idly by as observers. I think we have reached a tipping point—at least, I hope so. As many have said, this problem of systemic racism is not a Black problem; it was created by White people; and, it is only going to be resolved with real collaboration of all people.
I have heard so many thoughtful comments, written and spoken. There is a buy-in to do something meaningful.
In my religion, our responsibility is to seek to repair the world—tikkun olam. Our Rabbis teach: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”
I have circled “May 25, 2021” on my calendar—one year from the date that George Floyd was killed. My hope and prayer is that by then we will have taken meaningful, positive steps toward realizing our more perfect union of one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
It is past time that we got down to business.
Maury Shevin—passionate about the City of Birmingham–lives, works, thinks and plays on Birmingham’s Southside.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.