People marching, people demanding change. I’ve seen this before. I was in LA when there were riots and protests when the court decisions about police officers’ conduct towards Rodney King came down. I lived just blocks from Compton, and my dental staff traversed the troubled areas to come to work every day.
Today we are in the midst of demonstrations and protests around the death of Mr. George Floyd. Will, there be any real reform this time, or is this just another episode in the long fight for rights and justice?
Discrimination, racial injustice has been going on for many years. My dad served his country in the US Army during World War II, and he used his GI Bill to study at Harvard. Upon graduation, the only job he could get as an Asian-American was as a cashier in a market. Hopes dashed. Confidence destroyed.
When I graduated from dental school, I had a job interview as an associate dentist. As I waited for my interview, I saw the owner/dentist open the door to his office, look at me, shake his head, shut the door. Decision made. He had his receptionist lie that he was too busy to interview me that day. No, there already was a two-second interview from afar. Not one word was spoken. He already saw that I was female, Asian. Enough to turn me away. My hopes were shattered. My view of opportunity changed.
For others, there is a constant daily drip of dashed hopes, you’re not good enough, we don’t like you, we’re afraid of you. This wears on one’s soul and psyche. It’s hard to contribute, stand tall when what you have to offer is constantly turned away. We lose so many good people this way.
In the time between my dad’s experience and mine, African-Americans fought for their civil rights. This helped other minorities and peoples by ending some legal discriminations. But more work still needs to be done. Today, I even have the right and ability to run for office, something my dad did not have.
When the protest and marches end, will we have any real reform this time? We need real reform and changes that come from the heart, where people really see each other as people. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “…they are judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”
We need a change from the heart for real reform when law enforcement interacts with people with black, brown, red, yellow skins or different sexual orientations. Work has been done to move us forward, but there is room for much more. Are people looked at as citizens or just as suspicious people?
We need a change from the heart that the educational system sees each child as someone who has great potential, and we give each child the tools and skills to answer to opportunity.
We need a change from the heart from everyday citizens when they cross paths with people of other ethnicities/cultures/experiences. Acknowledge our shared humanity, do not look at each other as people to be feared. We’re just people.
We need a change from the heart that acknowledges that we are all fellow citizens, who live in the same country, do the same things, and live with similar hopes, dreams, and aspirations for our lives, our families, our children, our community.
We need a change from the heart for everyone to see that each of us loves this country, wants to contribute and deserves to be proud of what they can do. This is HOME for all of us.
We need a change from the heart so that we can all move forward together, for we are really all part of one whole. United we stand strong, divided we fall. We can do this. This is the Oregon way.